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Class Descriptions

Social Impact Leadership and Governance


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required

Pathway Associations

Community Change
Interpersonal Practice
Mgmt & LeadershipRequirement (Host)
Policy & PoliticalElective
Program Evaluation
Older Adults
Children & FamiliesElective

Course Description

This course will examine the attributes, skills, behaviors, problems, and issues associated with leadership in social impact organizations, both in the public and private sectors. Students will explore multiple styles of leadership, as well as the application of those styles in various settings. Some emphasis will be placed on the basic rudiments of executive positions and roles in relation to decision-making and facilitation, organizational governance, and relationships with boards of directors and external stakeholders. Issues pertaining to intersectional dimensions of identity (ability, age, class, color, culture, ethnicity, family structure, gender, gender identity and gender expression, marital status, national origin, race, religion, spirituality, sex, sexual orientation) will be given special attention, particularly as students develop their own identity as leaders and manage relationships and conflict in the workplace. Leadership will also be analyzed in relation to the stages of organizational development. Concomitant with the above executive roles and skills, this course will address strategies for organizational development that are directed toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as enhancing adaptability, effectiveness, and efficiency to serving populations that have traditionally experienced marginalization.


Upon completion of this course, students will:
1. Recognize the role of intersectional identity and multiple ways of knowing and constructing knowledge in leadership development and organizational governance. (EPAS 4, 6, 7; PODS)
2. Differentiate the relevant contexts, conditions, competencies, and characteristics of leaders which affect the organization’s impact on stakeholders and the community. (EPAS 4, 6, 7; PODS)
3. Develop and evaluate an evidence-based action plan related to systemic barriers and growth of leadership skills. (EPAS 4, 7, 9)
4. Evaluate ethical concerns in social impact organizations and the role of leadership in mitigating ethical concerns. (EPAS 4, 7; PODS)
5. Demonstrate how leaders apply critical thinking skills to assess, engage, intervene and evaluate. (EPAS 6, 8, 9)
6. Examine conflict, its components, and methods for transformation toward social justice goals, including analyzing assumptions that underlie presumably universal practice methods. (EPAS 6, 8; PODS)
7. Engage with diverse stakeholders to incorporate their perspectives on organizational governance and strategy. (EPAS 6, 7, 8; PODS)


This course will use multiple methods including but not limited to: lectures, demonstrations, case studies, readings, guest speakers, discussions, written assignments, individual and group exercises. The primary pedagogy will be experiential, involving problem-solving, project planning, simulations and hands-on applications of real-world situations arising in the field.

Intensive Focus on Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice (PODS)

This course integrates PODS content and skills with a special emphasis on the identification of theories, practice and/or policies that promote social justice, illuminate injustices and are consistent with scientific and professional knowledge. Through the use of a variety of instructional methods, this course will support students developing a vision of social justice, learn to recognize and reduce mechanisms that support oppression and injustice, work toward social justice processes, apply intersectionality and intercultural frameworks and strengthen critical consciousness, self-knowledge and self-awareness to facilitate PODS learning.

This course explores the intersectional nature of identity within the context of leadership in and governance of social impact organizations. Students will explore intersectional identities, including their own areas of privilege and oppression, as well as that which exists within an organizational context. Students will learn how they, as individual leaders, can reciprocally shape a socially just and inclusive workplace and impact services provided. Students will learn from those with different voices, values, and experiences, including different ways of knowing. This course will focus on processes that promote social justice, including those that resist and reduce disempowering and marginalizing dynamics.

Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Education Description

ID/IPE content refers to explicit content that involves scholarship, evidence, and experience from one, or more social science or other disciplines as they impact and/or expand social work knowledge. ID/IPE content in SW665 supports students to understand and value the importance of interprofessional and interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork in Social Work practice across a variety of populations, settings and roles.

Inclusion of ID/IPE content is supported by and directly relates to:
CSWE core competencies #1 ,4, 6, 7, 8, 9:
University of Michigan 5 IPE Core Competencies:

This pathway required-course intentionally integrates interdisciplinary or interprofessional practice content including:
CSWE Competencies addressed in this course are: #2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9.
IPE Core Competencies addressed in this course are: Values/Ethics, Roles/Responsibilities, Interprofessional Communication, Teams/Teamwork, and Intercultural humility

ID/IPE content that will be addressed and evaluated in the following ways:
Interdisciplinary and/or interprofessional practice are required content areas in the course with integration of relevant required readings, class lecture, discussion, and assignment including:
Personal Leadership Reflection and Action Plan assignments that students will integrate interdisciplinary and interprofessional practice theories, perspectives, and frameworks to imagine their own leadership style and demonstrate intercultural humility.
Case studies with intentional learning objectives of students’ exposure to the experiences and perspectives of helping professionals with diverse disciplinary backgrounds.

Students will be encouraged to actively contribute from their experiences, field placement practice, knowledge of readings, etc. to considerations of the impact of interdisciplinary and interprofessional care related to diverse populations and settings.

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