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Fostering Racial Justice and Transformative Change, GSLC Launches Certificate Programs

From ongoing racial oppression to a changing climate and an uncertain economy, today’s challenges are requiring leaders in all walks of life to put in the work to improve themselves and their organizations. Into this need, Antioch’s Graduate School of Leadership and Change (GSLC) is launching two new certificate programs. One is a certificate in “Leading for Inclusion & Racial Justice,” and the other focuses on “Transformative Leadership.” Both equip and prepare leaders to be proactive as they face a world full of challenge and opportunity.

The certificates are each designed to be completed over the course of three months. Each certificate program consists of three separate three-week courses of study, and they follow an asynchronous model that fits any schedule. They train participants in some of the topics and models of leadership that have long distinguished the GSLC’s PhD program.

By offering the classes in a certificate format, the GSLC hopes to engage with practitioners and executives who may not be currently enrolled in a doctoral degree but are looking for short-term educational opportunities. “In that sense,” explains Aqeel Tirmizi, PhD, the faculty lead for the  Certificate Programs’ development, “it is a way of increasing our mission impact by making high-quality leadership and change learning accessible to a wider audience.”

Designed For Ambitious, Creative, Busy People

Each of the certificates is designed to be simultaneously rigorous and flexible. Most of the work will be completed at the participant’s own timing and pace, and it should require around four to five hours per week. There will be regular, optional opportunities to engage with the course instructors—a programming decision that distinguishes these certificates from many other leading programs.

“Participants can expect to experience a motivating and creative mix of learning methods,” says Tirmizi. “They can also expect to have access to world-class instructors.”

Tirmizi thinks the certificates stand out for three main reasons. The first is that they “build on Antioch’s 160-year commitment to learner-centered education aimed at enhancing participants’ ability to improve human, economic, and ecological conditions in their organizations, communities, and larger social systems.” This distinctive Antioch approach has long been a hallmark of the GSLC, and now it is available to more people than ever.

The second reason Tirmizi encourages participants to consider the certificate programs is that “they create practical and intellectually-engaging pathways for personal and professional improvement.” This is achieved both through the design of the programming and through the access they give to the GSLC’s world-class instructors.

The final reason Tirmizi gives is the simple urgency of the subject matter. As he puts it, “The certificates deal with very important and timely themes that we face as a human community in the U.S. and beyond.”

Starting With Today’s Pressing Issues

The first certificates offered by the GSLC address two key areas: racial justice and transformative change.

“Leading for Inclusion & Racial Justice” is being led by Donna Ladkin, PhD. This certificate offers a systematic approach to engaging with the fundamental issues at the heart of leading for inclusion and racial justice, whether that leadership is happening at the organizational, community, or even family level. It is designed for anyone with an interest in challenging racism at a structural or systemic level within their institutions, organizations or communities. Its constituent three-week courses will focus on developing “identity intelligence,” leading for inclusion, and challenging social systems.

The other certificate, “Leading Transformative Change,” takes an asset-based approach in its approaches to creating engaged strategic directions, proactively addressing disruptive forces, and creating new organizational and community drivers of success now and in the future. It is led by Mitch Kusy, PhD. Students can expect to spend a three-week course learning the foundations of transformative change, another studying how to strategically plan for sustainable futures, and a third focusing on how to lead and implement successful change.

Building a Model for the Future

The team offering these certificates spent about six months working to develop and design them. They started by doing a careful scan of comparable programs and the leadership certificate landscape. This led them to believe that there were opportunities for Antioch to create these offerings that are distinctive and urgent. Says Tirmizi, “We truly believe that our offerings are cutting-edge in their intellectual content, relationally authentic in terms of pedagogy, and address emergent trends of our era.”

Moving forward, the GSLC plans to continue expanding its certificate programming. Two potential future certificates are Social Sector Leadership and Responsible leadership. Just like the two initial certificates, offerings in these areas would speak to emergent organizational and societal needs, fulfill important niche areas in terms of practitioner education, and leverage the GSLC’s strengths to further populations.