How to Launch a Doctoral Interdisciplinary Leadership Program
Brock, Barbara L
Martin, James R.
Moss Breen, Jennifer
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Building a doctoral program in leadership is never an easy task, and building an interdisciplinary doctoral program is even more difficult. Yet, it is the interdisciplinary approach that differentiates typical leadership programs from others and offers learners an integrated view of leadership theories and practices. This special report presents an example of designing and implementing an interdisciplinary doctoral program that promotes social justice leadership. Drawing from firsthand experiences of program faculty, staff, and administration, we share lessons learned and the logic behind adopting an interdisciplinary approach for those creating programs that seeks to promote social justice. We found that by allowing students and faculty to convene together, rather than disperse into separate, isolated academic disciplines, emerging scholar-practitioners are encouraged to engage in realistic, professional practice investigation and problem-solving techniques. Through this experience, we also found that conscious coursework design involves integrating multiple, often quite divergent, disciplines into a core set of courses. Additionally, we learned that unifying students through a common mission permits distinctive discussions, including personal reflection and ethical decision-making opportunities among the concepts, constructs, and knowledge that extend beyond disciplinary lines (Cherney et al., 2012). We also found that cultivating a diverse student body and faculty base requires everyone to work strategically within the program, recognizing the call for coherence and consistency across disciplinary lines. Finally, we discovered that developing a dissertation in practice allows students to implement an evidence-based solution within their professional practice setting as their pinnacle doctorate work (Herr & Anderson, 2014; Olson & Clark, 2009). We conclude this paper by reiterating our finding that leadership programs that promote social justice are enhanced by adopting an interdisciplinary approach as this allows for the creation of a program that challenges students to learn at a more complex level, faculty to integrate disciplines, and programs to promote socially just ideals. We discuss implications for other schools seeking to develop an interdisciplinary doctoral leadership program.