<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-NP2ZK8" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> Program Details

MA in Resilient Leadership

Two track options – Sustainable Systems or Climate Justice

The Resilient Leadership program at Naropa University prepares students to address ecological and social issues within community and organizational settings with insight, knowledge and compassion. Students build an integrated understanding of systems, sustainability and both social and environmental justice; develop deep relationships with self, community and nature; and acquire applied leadership skills. Students concentrate in either Sustainable Systems or Climate Justice. The two-year, 39-credit residential program is composed of semester-long courses and one summer block where students get hands on experience within the natural world and in community. In the final year, students apply their leadership skills to a substantial project in collaboration with a professional organization or complete a formal written thesis. Most classes are scheduled in the late afternoon and evening, and on occasional weekends, to accommodate working students.

Degree Requirements

Sustainable Systems (track one)

First year, Fall
  • ENV600 Inner Work (3)
  • ENV630 Transforming Systems (3)
  • ENV618 Groups as Living Systems (3)
First year, Spring
  • ENV650 The Work That Reconnects (3)
  • ENV710 Sustainability: Practice and Policy (3)
  • ENV637 Ecological Justice: Patterns of Oppression and Healing (3)
First year, Summer Block (end of May through end of June)
  • ENV665 Wilderness Solo (3)
  • Elective (3) - either ENV557 Food Justice or ENV542 Permaculture
Second year, Fall
  • Elective (3) - either either ENV625 Human Rights and Global Justice or ENV633 Environmental Policy and Trends
  • ENV701e Non-profit Management and Social Entrepreneurship (3) -online
  • ENV725 Applied Leadership Skills (3)
Second year, Spring
  • ENV645 The New Science and its Cultural Applications (3)
  • ENV785 Capstone (3)

Total Credits: 39 credits

Climate Justice (track two)

First year, Fall
  • ENV600 Inner Work (3) 
  • ENV625 Human Rights and Global Justice (3)
  • ENV633 Environmental Policy and Trends (3)
First year, Spring
  • ENV650 The Work That Reconnects (3)
  • ENV710 Sustainability: Practice and Policy (3)
  • ENV637 Ecological Justice: Patterns of Oppression and Healing (3)
First year, Summer Block (end of May through end of June)
  • ENV542 Permaculture (3)
  • Elective (3) – either ENV557 Food Justice or ENV665 Wilderness Solo
Second year, Fall
  • Elective (3) - either ENV630 Transforming Systems or ENV618 Groups as Living Systems
  • ENV701e Non-profit Management and Social Entrepreneurship (3) -online
  • ENV725 Applied Leadership Skills (3)
Second year, Spring
  • ENV875e Thesis (6) online

Total Credits: 39 credits

Course Listings

ENV600 Inner Work (3)
This course introduces mindfulness training through sitting and walking meditation as a ground for developing wakefulness and trust in ourselves and the phenomenal world, as well as nature-based ecopsychological practices that explore the relationship between nature, psyche, and spirit. Emphasis is on bringing the non-duality of wilderness mind back home and applying it to our daily activities and relationships. Experiencing mind without analysis, reinforcement, or rejection clears the way to relate directly with others and develop skills for a new kind of leadership. The course includes an introductory two-day retreat. Course fee. Required for MA Resilient Leadership students (both tracks).

ENV630 Transforming Systems (3)
An introduction to general and living systems theory as an effective paradigm for engaging in change processes at different scales in both biological and social domains. Particular attention is given to how systems of all scales transform into new systems, leading to an exploration of environmental, social, and cultural change processes. The course provides interwoven strands of information, theory, and application from the sociocultural, ecological, spiritual, political, economic, and personal/contemplative spheres. Theory is anchored in lived experience through personal and group work, field learning in the social and natural sciences, and problem-solving. Required for MA Resilient Leadership: Sustainable Systems track; Elective for MA Resilient Leadership: Climate Justice track.

ENV618 Groups as Living Systems (3)
This course introduces principles and applications of working with groups as living systems. The course utilizes emerging new insights in intercultural communication, neuroscience, group dynamics, and leadership to support the development of healthy, high functioning groups, while integrating the needs of the individual. Students learn by experientially and analytically engaging the three stages of group life and three stage of organizational development. Students develop a number of key applied tools for generating and maintaining creative and functional groups that are applicable in any organization or community setting. Required for MA Resilient Leadership: Sustainable Systems track; Elective for MA Resilient Leadership: Climate Justice track.

ENV650 The Work That Reconnects (3)
Inspired by Joanna Macy’s The Work That Reconnects which draws from deep ecology, systems theory and spiritual traditions, this course asks participants to engage the strong emotions resulting from the ecological crisis and work with transformative practices. Building on mindfulness training, the course introduces specific practices of loving-kindness, non-violent communication, active listening and group experiential engagement. Participants will work with the arc of The Work That Reconnects: opening to gratitude, owning our pain for the world, seeing with new eyes, and going forth. This course includes a nonresidential weekend intensive. This course is open to the public through the Joanna Macy Center. Prerequisite: Inner Work or instructor approved Meditation Training. Course fee. Required for MA Resilient Leadership students (both tracks).

ENV710 Sustainability: Practice and Policy (3)
Sustainability has emerged as a potentially unifying paradigm for work that simultaneously fosters human and planetary well-being. Students study the historical origins, theoretical frameworks, and tools associated with the three-legged view (economy, environment, society) of current sustainability policies and practices, and use case study methodologies to analyze and evaluate how sustainability policies and practices are being designed and implemented in a variety of organizations and communities.

Students conduct an experiential exploration of the personal and spiritual dimensions of sustainability practice. Required for MA Resilient Leadership students (both tracks).

ENV637 Ecological Justice: Patterns of Oppression and Healing (3)
This course explores how the oppression of earth and the oppression of people have gone hand in hand. Drawing from the diverse fields of environmental justice, political ecology, ecofeminism, ecopsychology and social justice, students will build skills to unravel the patterns of oppression, begin to hold multiple worldviews and contemplate healing. The class will be highly interactive and requires a deep level of research, presentation, and discussion by all participants, as well as the willingness to work with difficult emotions. As a result of this course, students will have heightened capacities to bring these issues to their work and service to the world. Required for MA Resilient Leadership students (both tracks).

ENV665 Wilderness Solo (3)
This eight-day wilderness camping retreat, which includes a three-day solo, is designed to mark a transition in the student’s program through an integration of learning, connections to land and place, and through a solo experience. In context of solitude and deep connection with nature, the course seeks to integrate the first year of learning, assisting students in finding a path, clarifying responsibility in reciprocity with the earth, and illuminating the heart of service to the community. Community work and ritual surround and support this important solo experience. Course fee. Required for MA Resilient Leadership: Sustainable Systems track; Elective for MA Resilient Leadership: Climate Justice track.

ENV557 Food Justice (3)
An introduction to the food justice movement, this course examines it from the local, national and international levels. Topics include food policy, grassroots movements and action, food production and food access as they relate to the systems of privilege and oppression that shape them. Equally, this course explores the actions of various communities working towards empowerment and liberation. Students engage with relevant theory, hands on service learning, site visits, as well as contact with professionals, activists and impacted communities in the food justice movement. Elective for MA Resilient Leadership students (both tracks). Course fee.

ENV542 Permaculture (3)
This course introduces a core set of principles that help us to design human living environments that are increasingly self-sufficient, while reducing our society's reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution that are fundamentally damaging to the planet's ecosystems. This design system known as permaculture covers basic agro-ecological design theory. We explore this in a hands-on way while creating edible landscapes, diverse gardens, and compost systems, and growing food on campus. This course also includes field trips and demonstrations. Course fee. Required for MA Resilient Leadership: Climate Justice track; Elective for MA Resilient Leadership: Sustainable Systems track.

ENV625 Human Rights and Global Justice (3)
This course explores topics relevant to the growing Climate Justice movement such as the ecological, economic and social effects of globalization; legal precedents surrounding global human and ecological rights; and activism and movement solidarity. Students will build skills with understanding global issues through current news, legislation and movement building. The course has a high level of research, presentation, discussion and dialogue. Required for MA Resilient Leadership: Climate Justice track; Elective for MA Resilient Leadership: Sustainable Systems track.

ENV633 Environmental Policy and Trends (3)
This course examines environmental movements from local to global and the development of environmental thought that has supported them. Including political, economic, cultural, and scientific dimensions, the course focuses on four content areas: United States, global, climate, and environmental justice policies and history. Topics may also include emerging approaches to agricultural, conservation, social justice, and natural resource issues. Required for MA Resilient Leadership: Climate Justice track; Elective for MA Resilient Leadership: Sustainable Systems track.

ENV701e Non-profit Management and Social Entrepreneurship (3)
This online course provides students with perspectives and practical tools for working in organizations, focusing on nonprofit management and social entrepreneurship. Topics covered include practical tools such as strategic planning, fund-raising, and grant-writing, as well as the visioning and inspiration that underlie this work. Case studies, models, and applications to the MA applied leadership projects ground this class in real-world examples and experience. Required for MA Resilient Leadership students (both tracks).

ENV725 Applied Leadership Skills (3)
As part of their demonstration of competence, Resilient Leadership students are required to take a leadership role in a substantial project that leads to increased sustainability in an organizational setting or to complete a formal written thesis. This course is designed to support students through this process. Students study and gain hands-on experience in essential, traditional leadership skills and start to apply these skills through developing a proposal for either an applied project or formal written thesis. Theory and practical applications of conflict resolution, mediation, and other selected skills are presented. Elements of project design and proposal writing are covered. Classes focus on coaching, feedback, analysis, and presentation of the applied leadership projects. In addition to the course faculty, students chose a faculty mentor to work with. Required for MA Resilient Leadership students (both tracks).

ENV645 New Science and its Cultural Applications (3)
In a synthesis of the old and new visions in Western science, this course develops understanding of the new material emerging in science regarding the earth as a living system; examines cosmology and Gaian science, as well as key principles of geophysiology; and explores the significant cultural implications and applications. This material provides key tools and perspectives for environmental leaders, as well as insights useful for working with organizations and communities. Required for MA Resilient Leadership: Sustainable Systems track

ENV785 Capstone (3)
In this capstone course, the student is expected to synthesize and integrate the conceptual and theoretical knowledge and understanding, as well as skills acquired in the curriculum through course work, internships, leadership development, research, and other learning activities. The emphasis is on the student's demonstrated development and competency of applied environmental leadership skills and written analytic material that can be utilized for individual student assessment and program assessment. Students are assessed on their professional report and formal presentation of their applied environmental leadership project during this semester. Course fee (for spring intensive). Required for MA Resilient Leadership: Sustainable Systems track

ENV875e Thesis (6) online
Building upon the thesis proposal written within the Applied Leadership Skills course, within this course the student writes a formal thesis paper focused on a relevant climate justice leadership topic. The thesis paper will be centered upon a unique thesis statement and will include an introduction, a relevant review of literature gained through the program, a leadership approach to the issue, and a final discussion and recommendation. The student will work with the course instructor as well as a faculty mentor and a student peer. Students are assessed on the thesis paper as well as a formal presentation to the community. Course fee (for spring intensive). Required for MA Resilient Leadership: Climate Justice track.

Total Credits: 39 credits