Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Vision for the Nonprofit Sector Accomplished Through my Dissertation

I want challenge the norms of doing a traditional dissertation. My professors have advised me that my dissertation does not have to be grand or change the world. However, like many doctoral students, I don't want to listen to my professors on that particular point. I want my dissertation to impact the entire nonprofit sector!

I want to read my favorite subjects which will inform my study. I want to continue to read literature about nonprofit leadership issues, workforce issues, capacity building, nonprofit education and service-learning/experiential education.

Then with advisement from my professors and Director of Assessment I want to complete a mixed methods study of the experiential non-traditional social sector leadership certificate program I am developing at John F. Kennedy University in the Bay Area.

This program isn't like any other leadership development or educational program you have ever seen. Really...I've completed market research on nonprofit specific leadership and education programs and the results are -- there are many amazing nonprofit education programs out there but the majority of them provide technical (how to run a nonprofit) training* not the interpersonal training or systems understanding that is needed to run a social sector organization today. Plus, other leadership programs that are out there don't address social sector specific dilemmas and challenges (yes our sector is different than other sectors and we have unique issues).

(*with the exception of USD which is an amazing nonprofit leadership and management education program.)

This certificate program is in early development stages right now and is being created by a group of managers from the for profit, nonprofit and govt. sectors who all have the goal to create a learning hub for social sector managers and leaders, a place where they will learn and address interpersonal and organizational problems and issues in a experiential and hands on manner.

I want to create a mixed method study for my dissertation that would consist of entrance and exit surveys of the students, qualitative interviews of organizations where the students work, and action research so the students can be researchers studying the program itself. All these items especially the action research would allow the program to make mid-course corrections and shift based on the needs of the students and their organizations.

End result -- create an experiential hands on leadership program model for the social sector that attempts to address current nonprofit leadership and workforce issues.

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