Salve Regina announces updated master’s degree for a new kind of leader
The holistic leadership master’s degree has been a staple of the Salve Regina’s graduate programs for several years. Recently, the program was updated, including a change to the title of the program. Moving forward, graduate students can now get a master’s degree in leadership dynamics and practice, and the program changed from a 36-credit to a 30-credit program.
An online informational session about the master’s degree in leadership dynamics and practice will be held on Thursday, Oct. 14, at noon. Those interested in attending can register here.
The history of the master’s degree in leadership dynamics and practice
The origins of the leadership program are tied to the 48-credit holistic counseling master’s degree, according to Dr. Nancy Gordon, counseling, leadership and expressive arts department chair. In the early 2000s, graduate students began asking for a program that was holistic in nature, that wasn’t focused specifically on counseling and that could be applicable in broader ways within organizations and systems.
“We started to ask ourselves, ‘What are some of the characteristics that describe many of our students?’ said Dr. Gordon. “We decided that one of the characteristics of students in our holistic programs was that they were leaders. They were leaders in their own lives, they were leaders in their profession and within their communities.”
Salve Regina was one of the first universities to create a program focused on leadership through a holistic lens, according to Dr. Gordon, and the program attracted a lot of interest over the years due to its unique nature. However, recently Dr. Gordon and a team began to reimagine the program. This led to the name change from holistic leadership to leadership dynamics and practice, as the team felt this most directly reflected the emphasis of the program as it continues to grow and expand.
“We’re still one of a few programs who offer this kind of master’s level leadership curriculum,” Dr. Gordon said. “Our slogan for several years has been, ‘The world needs a new kind of leader,’ and that is still our program focus. We are not a traditional management program …. We intend to continue teaching from the perspective that has drawn students to the program over the years.”
Looking at leadership through a holistic lens
The master’s degree in leadership dynamics and practice stands out from others in a few distinct ways, according to Dr. Gordon. The program takes a holistic look at historical shifts in culture and why those shifts impact leadership. For many early indigenous cultures, the world was seen as a whole, with no separation of body, mind or spirit. However, as monumental moments in history took shape — such as the Enlightenment, the Newtonian scientific model and the Industrial revolution — the world shifted into focusing on parts.
While this is not inherently bad, according to Dr. Gordon, an over-emphasis on the parts without looking at the whole can miss important takeaways within a broader picture. For example, medicine split into specialties and began to describe a human being in machine-like terms with the parts to be broken and analyzed separately. This focus can miss the ways that a human or any complex organized system is an inherently interconnected organism, with all parts affecting the others. Oftentimes, systemic dysfunction cannot be compartmentalized, and the mind-body or system alignment is something to be studied.
“It’s important to understand how this separation has affected all the professions today, specifically leadership,” said Dr. Gordon. “Leadership and organizations were described in mechanistic terms, often compared to clocklike behavior. You have a function, I have a function, and if we each do our function, we don’t have to connect …. Leadership was often taught through a management lens, with command and control from the top down, and people fit into the system similarly to cogs in a wheel. We were not addressing or even seeing the whole pattern in the system or understanding the interrelationships between people, the system, the structure, the policies and the culture.”
The graduate program at Salve Regina helps train leaders who come from many sectors to look at holistic philosophies and to work more effectively with individuals, groups and larger systems. It’s a progressive-minded program that equips students with the latest knowledge in effective leadership, and it explores proven interventions and guideposts for systemic change.
“Student often ask, ‘Why are we studying the effects of quantum thinking on leadership?’” said Dr. Gordon. “It’s because this way of thinking changed the paradigm. The paradigm moved from certainty of the scientific method — which says, ‘If I do A, B and C, then I’m going to get this result, and once I get that result, that’s a certain outcome until someone disproves it.’ Quantum thinking says, ‘That paradigm or way of thinking is important under specific conditions. We also need to look at unexpected outcomes, because what we think might happen may not necessarily happen in any given relationship. And leadership is inherently a relationship.”
The program also offers two four-course graduate certificates in the dynamics of contemporary leadership or the practice of integrated leadership. These certificates can stand alone, or they can be combined with two additional courses to complete the master’s degree.
It’s also important to point out that in today’s volatile and uncertain world, the program believes that leadership is everyone’s responsibility, according to Dr. Gordon. It does not matter if someone is a leader in their job or not, because everyone can be a leader in some capacity. This is another key point in the leadership program— seeing that everyone has leadership capabilities and should be empowered to be leaders as needed regardless of a job title, a professional status or a role.
“We all must do our part. We’re learning how to be adaptive, what it means to have a relationship, to be taught deep listening, to be able to understand dialogue as opposed to debate,” said Dr. Gordon. “The kind of leader that we’re saying we need today is one who is committed to inquiry, to mindfulness, to really being able to see and read a room, situation or system.”
For more information, an online informational session about the master’s degree in leadership dynamics and practice, as well as the certificates, will be held on Thursday, Oct. 14, at noon. Those interested in attending can register here.
More information can also be found on the program’s website.
Featured photo by Getty Images/nd3000