The Community Leadership Master’s in Professional Studies includes core courses designed to help each student develop the self-understanding, academic knowledge, practical skills, and professional relationships needed to excel as a community leader. Upon completing the core, students can take courses in policy, race/gender/class, education, urban studies, non-profits, health, and social entrepreneurship.
As a student, you will work with the Graduate Program Director to plan a pathway through the program to meet your individual needs. Students choose elective from graduate courses in American Studies, Community Psychology, Environmental Systems, Geography, Modern Languages Linguistics & Intercultural Communication, Public Policy, Social Entrepreneurship, and Sociology.
Required Core Courses (18 credits)
CLDR 601: Introduction to Community Leadership – Contexts, Models, and Communication
This Introduction to Community Leadership course is the foundational class for the Certificate and MPS in Community Leadership, grounding students in key concepts, skills, and experiences that they will continue to build upon throughout their graduate program and professional development. Students learn the theory and practice of establishing an inclusive learning community with attention to developing leadership skills of self-reflection, deep listening, and facilitation.
Thematic course units investigate core program elements including: (1) Social contexts of community leadership with special attention to urban settings, historical and structural inequity, and asset-based development. (2) Models and metaphors for community leadership, including attention to diverse theoretical and practice-based approaches to leadership with opportunities to explore leaders’ identities and personal strengths. (3) The central role of diverse media platforms and approaches to communication that underpin effective community leadership practice.
In addition to class readings, written reflections, and discussions, students will participate in community experiences to complement their classroom learning. Students will develop a relationship with a community leader and corresponding partner organization. Through regular semi-structured conversations, they’ll have the opportunity to learn and discuss core elements of community leadership. Students will work with community partners to collaboratively design a project that will contribute directly to a need in their partner organization. At the end of this first foundational course for the MPS, students will also create a template for their overall MPS digital portfolio, designing a compelling media platform for planning and demonstrating their best learning and development as they move forward.
SOCY 600 or PUBL 600: Research Methodology
This course is designed to advance graduate students’ knowledge of the modes of inquiry in the social sciences and to familiarize them with research methods and techniques.
CLDR 602: Legal and Ethical Issues in Community Leadership
Community-oriented organizations and their leaders have a myriad of responsibilities that involve ethical challenges and legal requirements. This course focuses on the ethical and legal issues faced by organizational leaders and how they make decisions that affect their organizations and the citizens they serve. We discuss race, inclusion, equity and justice as essential dimensions of the ethical and legal decisions that organizational leaders make.
CLDR 603: Capstone Seminar and Project
This interdisciplinary capstone course provides participants with a culminating experience in the theory and practice of collaborative leadership, community-centered social capital development, and culturally-inclusive problem solving. The course immerses students in the theories, knowledge, skills, and affective competencies related to building community assets. A key focus of the course is strengthening students’ capacities to assess and address community problems. The course builds on students’ prior courses in the Community Leadership curriculum to provide a field-level application of their diverse leadership tool kits.
In addition to class readings, written reflections, group discussions, conversations with guest speakers, and visits to different neighborhoods in Baltimore City, students participate in a collaborative community-based research project. Students work in conjunction with a local community partner organization and an instructor to: (1) explore key issues facing a specific community and organization, and identify a particular topic to focus on; (2) develop and deliver a research-based intellectual product that enhances the student’s professional development as well as the capacities of the community and partner organization. This is a 6-credit course.
SOCY 606: Social Inequality & Social Policy
This course examines poverty and inequality in modern society. The focus is on describing the extent of poverty and inequality, examining theories that attempt to explain these phenomena and discussing the policies that have been employed to mitigate them. In addition to class inequality, the course will consider racial and gender inequality.
As students enter the program, they will determine a pathway with an additional 12 credits of electives. Working with the Program Director, students will identify an appropriate grouping of four electives, which could include the pathways (described below) in Urban Studies, Nonprofits or Social Entrepreneurship – or a unique pathway designed with the Director. The courses listed next to each pathway are examples. The Program Director maintains a continually updated list of graduate courses that are designated as Community Leadership electives and may fit into your pathway.
Students who have completed certain articulated courses through UMBC’s Institute of Extended Learning (IXL) can receive graduate credit towards the M.P.S. in Community Leadership. Students who have demonstrated mastery through assessments in courses including Asset Based Community Development, Pedagogy and Practice of Place, and Restorative Practices can transfer each course for the one credit CLDR 610: Special Topics in Community Leadership. Contact the Program Coordinator for more information.
Nonprofit and Public Organizations
Design a pathway that draws on the courses listed above as well as other Community Leadership elective courses, to connect your experiences, interests, and aspirations. When you start the program, you will work with the Program Director to develop a plan tailored to your success.
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