Capstone Course: Adaptive Leadership (PPS 415.01)
This is the capstone course for students in Service Opportunities in Leadership, a program that includes a preparation course in the spring and a community-based research project for a partner organization in the summer. The capstone course explores leadership as the art of mobilizing groups to face complex, adaptive problems. Through case studies of social and political issues, we will investigate the demands of public problem-solving work.
Adaptive work is about calling attention to problems that are difficult to frame and even more challenging to address. As a result, groups may understandably resist doing adaptive work. But when problems persist, and adversely affect the wellbeing of our institutions and communities, we need people who will take the plunge, helping us address the tough questions we can no longer avoid. Raising difficult issues can be dangerous, yet when the work is effective, the benefits—including social progress and personal growth—can be enormously gratifying. Throughout the semester we will pay careful attention to both the challenges and the rewards of engaging in adaptive work.
A central requirement of the course is the completion of a comprehensive research portfolio about a social issue that interests you. This issue should be one for which you have a strong curiosity or persistent passion to explore in more depth. In the portfolio we will ask you to produce a succinct essay about your topic, frame a policy problem connected to it, and provide an analysis of the adaptive challenges the problem presents to the organization(s) you are studying.