Applied Leadership Project

During the second year of their Master’s degree studies, students within the Sustainable Systems track carry out an Applied Leadership Project. Initially, during the fall Applied Leadership Skills course, students observe and/or volunteer in an organization, business, government body, or community setting so that they can come to understand the goals, work, and systems of the organization. Based on this, students take a leadership role in sustainability in a substantial project that directly benefits that organization. These projects are carried out with full collaboration and approval of the organization for which they are designed. In some cases students in the Climate Justice track choose to complete the Applied Leadership Project instead of the Thesis.

A collaborative project can include creating or applying new models of sustainability, shifting resource use patterns, building community and participation, researching new options or possibilities, and supporting the chosen organization to accomplish its mission in sustainable ways.

In the Applied Leadership Project the student applies professional skills to real life situations, while the organization receives beneficial action that supports its mission and health.

Examples of Applied Leadership Projects carried out by OUR students

This is just a sample the kind of work that students may undertake in communities, nonprofits, and government or business organizations.

  • Colorado Organization for Responsible Economy (CORE) Project: performing an extensive assessment of the needs of CORE's various; conducting focus group interviews; outlining specific needs and presenting the findings and specific recommendations to the organization.
  • Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Project: developing a long term culture of sustainability and thrive-ability for people working with wildlife rehabilitation to promote healthy behaviors rehabilitators' resiliency in the face of the challenges of this important work.
  • Project with Bella Energy: developing knowledge sharing within the organization by analyzing the organization, facilitating interviews and focus groups, and conducting research resulting in recommendations to the organization and implementation of some collaborative strategies.
  • Project with City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department: a project that focused on sustainably restoring the historic Platt Farmhouse to make this the first historic, local landmark to be sustainably restored.
  • Project with Village Earth: making substantial contributions to the organization through capacity building and in generating a business model.
  • Groundwork Denver: facilitating leadership skills for inner city youth in Denver by working with the Youth Program in the design and development of a revenue-generating business model that will reduce the dependency of the Youth Program on grant money and charitable contributions
  • Project with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers: designing a project to set up a user-friendly way for volunteers not trained in ecology or botany to take before and after photographs and document the long term work of the organization contributing to fundraising strategies as well as, both the viability and long term learning of the organization.
  • University Center for Atmospheric Administration Strategic Planning Process: introducing dialogue, the U-model and a number of other effective strategies into leading the strategic planning process in his division of the organization.
  • Project with High Country Conservation Center and the Lake County Energy Working Group:designing and engaging in primary investigative research into "energy poverty" in the county uncovering the real needs of low income members of the community and arriving at substantial recommendations for addressing this issue in the high country of Colorado.
  • Earth Charter Project: providing local leadership in this organization and designing a leadership guidebook to strengthen an organization that depends on volunteer leadership.
  • Indigenous Hill Tribe Project in Thailand: working closely with a hill tribe to fully document both their ecological knowledge and present their proposal to the government regarding how they would contribute to forest maintenance and restoration under new Park Service rules.
  • Inner City After-School Education Project: designing a program to teach students how to value and connect with their environment where they live (as opposed to a program that would take them out of the city on a rare basis), thus contributing to the mission of the organization.
  • Transition Colorado: carrying out a collaborative leadership project adding value to the organization in the areas of food security strategies, community engagement process, food localization and resilience, thus catalyzing further region wide collaboration focused on food justice Colorado.

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