OSR Master’s program
As the first course in an integrated seven-quarter program, students come together to cross the threshold into their learning journey. Students are introduced to the core concepts of the program’s interdisciplinary curriculum. The concept of a learning community is introduced and the container for the community is intentionally formed. Students are introduced to the theory and principles of organization development, adult learning, and andragogy. In addition, students begin their individual learning journey through a variety of exercises designed to engage the whole person and facilitate coming to know self. Particular attention is paid to connecting with core values and aspirations as a foundation for connecting with their great work. Required.
An overview of systems theory and the shift from the mechanistic paradigm to one of holism and interrelatedness and focuses on the development of systems thinking habits and skills. Key systems concepts and principles such as interdependence, context, boundaries, feedback, structure, and mental models are explored. Students learn how to see systems and apply systems thinking tools and skills in their everyday lives to address the many complex challenges found in their family, community, and organizational systems. Required.
Students gain hands-on experience and receive real-time feedback in designing, leading, and participating in meetings to ensure that objectives are met while encouraging involvement of others. Special attention is paid to crafting key questions to appropriately engage group members as well as learning visual tools for working with group input. Students also learn how to give and receive clear feedback that can be received and acted upon. Course concepts are connected to professional applications. Required.
Students explore and experience design and design thinking as an intentional co-creating process of being and acting in the world. The design approach invokes creative thinking and encourages innovative action. This is necessary for leading intentional change, where organizational shifts are in sync with the system’s larger context. The course provides students the theoretical framework and practical skills essential for helping clients imagine, conceptualize, and implement their preferred future. Creative change is explored in conjunction with the notion of “serving others” in a manner that can facilitate personal and organizational change and renewal. Required.
Leadership development is a core skill component and the instrument of systemic organizational change. Students are introduced to the evolution of leadership theory and styles, such as situational, shared, servant, steward, feminine and adaptive leadership. Leadership is distinguished from authority and recognized as an action that complements followership; both require courage - following the heart in the face of fear. Thus development of leadership and followership capability is rooted in personal learning, awareness, emotional intelligence, and mastery. Required.
This course lays a theoretical and practical foundation in group dynamics and team development. Students gain knowledge, awareness, and skills in working with task, relationship, and process issues in teams. The exploration of team development models helps to understand and inform work in small groups. Students also explore the structure and function of teams, including defining characteristics, when and how to use teams, and how to bring forth high performance. Required
Students explore the classical theories of organizations as a way to understand the historical roots of contemporary organizational practices. They become familiar with seminal organizational theorists whose philosophies, values, and practice surface in issues such as change, effectiveness, and participation. Special emphasis is given to organizational culture as a key concept within organizational theory. Students learn how to use their understanding of theory and culture as a foundation for organizational inquiry. They broaden their understanding of inquiry to see how it can be used to enhance organizational learning and generate the energy for positive change. Required.
Students will explore contemporary organizational change models and theories to learn more about their strengths and limitations in creating real and sustainable change in organizations. Students will learn to distinguish between first and second order change and change that is planned and unplanned. Intervention is a process to intentionally “disturb” the system in order to improve the functioning and performance of the system. Ethical issues will be explored, particularly the importance of ascertaining and working at the appropriate depth of intervention. Required.
The 52x and 57x series are a sustaining and distinctive thread throughout the entire two-year journey. The first year sequence focuses intention and attention on their own intra- and inter-personal dynamics within the learning community and to declaring their “work to do in the world.” Students practice accessing and increasing self-awareness about their personal history, their current stage of personal development, and their desired future. They engage creatively in learning about themselves, discovering their preferences, evoking their dreams and aspirations, and becoming clear about their gifts and talents. Students become acquainted with their own level of consciousness and how they are growing into their next level of consciousness. Required.
Students deepen their learning about design and team process within an atmosphere of training and development. This course provides an opportunity for students to participate on small teams assigned the task of designing and delivering a learning module for an internal client, the OSR cohort. This team experience is a forum for strengthening design, leadership, and team membership skills. It also provides students a rich and challenging setting to learn about themselves and how they show up and function in teams. Design Team activities take place in two or three consecutive quarters. Required.
Students participate in and deepen their knowledge of the full consultative process: entry, contracting, data collection/interpretation, feedback, recommendations, and implementation. Participating on teams, students work in a real consultative engagement with an external client. Teams consult to issues and opportunities specific to the innovation, renewal, health, and wholeness of human systems. Additionally, students explore the role of the self as consultant/helper, learning how personal values, self-awareness, and ethical principles are essential to any consultative relationship. This course is the final in-depth and hands-on opportunity for students to practice their competency in designing and conducting organizational development interventions before they implement their OSR Project. Part of this course is conducted off-site. Required
This course integrates living systems theory and systems thinking and their application to working with human social systems. A leader, change agent, or intervener must develop new skills to see how a social system is trying to emerge into a new whole. Students explore how to design and create the conditions for a social system to self-organize to a new and higher level of functioning by “coming along side” the emerging system to midwife it into this higher state of complexity and functionality. Required.
Students develop an understanding of “design thinking” and how it can be used to help organizations create the future. Exploration of theory, models, and methods associated with design thinking helps students understand how to apply this perspective at an organizational, group, and individual level. Emphasis is placed on methods featuring a participatory and whole systems approach. Students will have an opportunity to experience aspects of design thinking models and methods as a way to strengthen their application skills. Required.
This course focuses on the practice of adaptive leadership in complex adaptive systems as developed by Ron Heifetz and explores the qualities of leadership and followership needed for a systemic and holistic approach to designing and leading change. Skills focus on discernment of the adaptive challenge facing an organizational system as opposed to technical problems, advancing the purpose of the organization, orchestrating tension in service of systemic change, listening to and communicating the “song beneath the words,” leveraging informal versus formal leadership, differentiating self from roles, being on the dance floor and in the balcony, thinking politically, and giving the work back to the group. Required.
Appreciative Inquiry is a participative and powerful method for creating change in social systems. Rooted in social constructionism and the power of image, it involves a systematic discovery and mobilizing of what gives a social system life in human, ecological, and economic terms. Because appreciative inquiry represents a major shift in how organizational development practitioners work with organizations, students will learn the theory and practice of this approach, particularly as it relates to taking an intentional “stance” from which one engages the world. Required.
After studying change at the individual, group, and organizational level, this course looks at change on the global level. Examples of global change can be found in business, the economy, technology, the environment, and social issues such as poverty, disease, and education. Students explore what it takes to be ethical designers of change in the face of such complex issues. In particular, students gain a working knowledge of the expansive territory of culture. Understanding, and designing for, intercultural differences is essential to the success of working on a global level. Required.
As the final course in an integrated seven-quarter program, focus is on group endings and managing transitions at the individual level. The learning is highly experiential and personal in that this course includes the adjournment of the learning community. Design considerations for group endings are examined. Students reflect on their OSR journey via their Exit Statement and development a continuance plan for life-long learning. Required.
Students deepen their learning about design, consultative skills, and team process within an atmosphere of process consultation. This course provides an opportunity for students to participate on a small team assigned the task of consulting to an external client. Students study a specific body of knowledge vital to their understanding and practice of the consultation process. Consulting Team activities take place in one or two consecutive quarters. Required.
OSR 562 Skills – Organization Systems Renewal Project (3 credits)
The Organization Systems Renewal (OSR) Project is the capstone project in which the students demonstrate proficiency of OSR program-related core competencies as well as fulfillment of the student’s goals in their Learning Commitment. The OSR Project is conducted under the supervision of the student’s faculty advisor An OSR Project requires program advisor sign-off before the student begins work. Required.
The second year sequence of this 52x and 57x series shifts intention and attention from internal to external and from the student declaring to claiming their “work to do in the world.” In a formal learning commitment – a key element of the program – students define their vocation (interpreted as the intersection between deep gladness and contribution to the world) and design their own plan of action to declare and claim it. Students reflect on how they are showing up in their external environments, where they are experiencing their learning edge as well as their “deep gladness,” and how their theory of practice and learning commitments are aligning with their values and deep purpose. Students hone their “self as instrument” and recognize how their level of consciousness impacts their interventions with the consciousness (i.e., culture) of the systems in which they work. Students begin to reflect more deeply on their external engagements and their capacity to reflect “in action” as well as “on their action.” Required.
“Each time I come to OSR I admire the wholeness and the integrity of this program. OSR keeps faith with the intellectual tradition of open systems thinking skills while honoring people’s aspirations for integrating mind, body, and spirit. To me this is education for the 21st Century. When people ask me about graduate education as the basis for a consulting career, I tell them to check out OSR first.” — Marvin Weisbord, author of Productive Workplaces and originator of Future Search