Creative Leadership | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Creative Leadership: Degree Information

MCAD emphasizes a collaborative process and working with students from all professions. For this Master of Arts degree, you will take courses in several different areas adding up to 30 total credits required for graduation.

Core Required Courses

6XXX ​​Theory and Practice of Creative Leadership
4 credits

This foundational survey course introduces students to significant conceptual models, principles, and approaches to leadership used by artists, designers, social and environmental entrepreneurs, and other innovators. Students apply leading-edge methods for realizing a future built on transformational ideas that emerge from the intersection of creativity, culture, equity, and sustainability. The increasingly in-demand skills introduced through this course, which can be applied at any scale and scope of endeavor, include: critical, creative, and integrative thinking, decision making in times of uncertainty, visual communications, storytelling, and facilitation. A range of leadership frameworks will be explored, such as: leadership models in nature, values-based leadership, distributed leadership, network leadership, conscious leadership, adaptive leadership, regenerative leadership, and progressive leadership. Students compare and evaluate these approaches while engaging with assessment tools to help them better understand themselves as leaders. They also develop a plan outlining key goals for their ongoing journey through the program, documented in a personal learning portfolio.

7XXXX Relational Leadership
2 credits

This residency introduces students to the concept of relational leadership and the value of intentionally formed networks, communities of practice, and peer groups whereby individuals with shared goals support one another, exchange knowledge, develop skills, and work to advance thinking and progress in a particular domain. One global exemplar, examined as a case during this course, is Enspiral. In addition to being a resource-sharing network of freelancers and independent enterprises working in relationship to one another to achieve greater social impact, Enspiral is an incubator for network members’ experiments in social change. As part of this residency week, students also participate in a series of embodied leadership workshops aimed at helping them: develop capacity for resilience under pressure, deepen somatic self-awareness, improve attentional capacity and decision-making abilities, recognize and shift power dynamics, and develop fully integrated, relational ways of knowing, being and doing. Students continue developing their personal learning portfolio system, used throughout the program to reflect on their learning and their relationships to other students. 

6XXX The Culturally Competent Leader and The Inclusive Workplace
2 credits

This course increases the ability of students to understand and effectively engage with people from different cultures or holding different values, and to create inclusive work environments in which everyone feels welcome and appreciated. Key concepts and related tools that students engage include: implicit bias training, disability justice principles, systemic inequality, power analysis, anti-racist and anti-oppressive organizations, restorative HR, culture mapping, radical responsibility, and the empathy bridge. Students gain awareness of their own worldview, as well as an appreciation for different worldviews.

6XXX Emerging Organizational Structures and Related Business Forms
2 credits

This course examines the structures, purposes, and principles of “next-stage” collaborative, decentralized, and adaptive organizations--such as, Teal organizations (Frederick Laloux), deliberately developmental organizations, and holacracy systems--as well as the macro-environmental (economic, social, technological, and other) factors that have been tied to their emergence. Students are introduced  to the business modeling process, the range of business forms available to those starting enterprises in the United States (including LLCs, nonprofit corporations, cooperatives, B-corps, partnerships, sole proprietorships, and L3Cs), and the uses, benefits, and limitations of each.

6XXX Design Thinking and Approaches to Address Complex Social Challenges
4 credits

This course examines the ways in which leaders in a range of sectors can utilize the principles and methods of design thinking (and other design approaches) to address complex social problems. In this course, students employ a design-driven process that includes: building empathy and relationships; identifying and clarifying a community need; analyzing the larger environment in which that need or problem is situated; creating an effective communications strategy; building coalitions for ideation and co-creation; prototyping one or more solutions to address the need; and testing those solutions. 

7XXX Managing Remote and Non-Hierarchical Networks, Organizations, and Teams
4 credits

The course introduces students to management tools, processes, and practices employed within flat systems, decentralized organizations, and self-managing teams to support collective visioning, decision-making, budgeting, and planning. As a key component of this work, students learn to cultivate an agile mindset: that is, the capacity to respond to an unpredictable environment, a rapidly changing marketplace, or disruptions stemming from the increasing interdependence of global systems. This course focuses specifically on applying these skills and tools to the challenge of leading virtual teams and managing remote projects. This course also examines intellectual property and copyright questions, issues, and agreements common to creative, collaborative, and digital environments.

Prerequisites: Theory and Practice of Creative Leadership; Emerging Organizational Structures and Related Business Forms

7XXX Leading Transformation Change
2 credits

This course supports students in developing the knowledge and skills they need to lead systemic change in times of global upheaval. It examines the relationships between self, organization, and system and focuses on the individual and collective processes for imagining and bringing about a radically improved state of being at both small and large scales. Key concepts covered in the course include: continuous transformation in times of uncertainty, behavioral theories of change in organizations and individuals, systemic thinking (tools, mapping, and leverage points), life-cycle analysis and adaptive cycles (panarchy framework), and biomimicry for social innovation.

Prerequisites: Relational Leadership; The Culturally Competent Leadership and the Inclusive Workplace

7XXX Leading for Environmental Sustainability
2 credits

This course focuses on the issues and trends in the area of ecological sustainability, with attention paid to their interconnection to economic and social sustainability (e.g. environmental justice, governance for sustainability, inequity, and the North-South divide). Students are introduced to a range of sustainability frameworks (e.g. limits to growth, nature’s principles, and the natural step), as well as the role of art and design in sustainability. While triple bottom line theory is covered, students move beyond this accounting framework and the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to design resilient, regenerative organizations.

Prerequisites: Relational Leadership; The Culturally Competent Leader and the Inclusive Workplace

7XXX Creative Leadership Capstone
6 credits

To graduate all students must complete a capstone project. This experience gives students the opportunity to reflect upon the knowledge they have gained in the program and demonstrate their skills as creative leaders. The capstone is composed of three requirements. First, students successfully complete a personal learning portfolio, started at the top of the program and maintained throughout, that represents the student’s capacity for reflection-in-action and encourages the cultivation of professional relationships aimed at expanding a personal learning network. Second, students work in pairs to design a leadership workshop, supported by theories and practices taught in the program, that they market and deliver to one or more Twin Cities-area cultural or creative organizations during their final residency week. Third, students develop a Creative Leadership Plan to support their ongoing development post-graduation. This plan includes such things as: their personal values and an articulation of their vision as leaders; reflections on their personal leadership style and preferred model of leadership; an evaluation of their cultural competence and areas for growth in this arena; their own continuous learning plan (including specific tools and practices they have acquired throughout the program that they want to maintain); and their creative leadership goals in the short- and long-term.

Prerequisites: All MA in Creative Leadership courses excluding culminating residency

Residency: Leader As Coach, Facilitator, and Storyteller
2 credits

In the final residency students spend the week demonstrating their communication skills, listening skills, empathy, and capacity for both intuitive thinking and critical analysis. They strengthen their competencies as coaches, able to provide support and guidance to others and facilitate their development; as facilitators, able to use well-crafted questions, reflection, and well-designed processes to help teams and individuals solve problems; and as storytellers, able to connect with an audience, speak authentically and confidently, and inspire others to action. Students deploy these skills by co-leading a workshop (designed as part of their capstone) with a local cultural or creative organization or business.

Prerequisites: All MA in Creative Leadership courses
Total Credit Hours