MS in Education and Community Leadership Degree Program

PAGE SUMMARY: This page provides an in-depth description of the MS in Education and Community Leadership degree program including its purpose, goals, learning outcomes, requirements, course descriptions, and more. Most of the content is found beneath the drop-down headings/toggles below. 

MS Education Program Overview

  • Units of Study: 36 Semester Units
  • Length of Study (self paced): 1.5 to 2 years full time, 4 years part time
  • Tuition: $8,400 per year (See WISR’s catalog for a list of all fees)
  • Program Tuition: 4 years: $33,600; 2 years: $16,800
  • Admission Requirement: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Enrollment Start Date: First of any month

MS Education Introduction

This program prepares students for jobs, careers, and/or paid or volunteer community involvements in positions of community leadership and innovation in non-profit agencies, small businesses, grassroots organizations, and as self-employed activists and consultants.

This program may also meet the needs of innovatively-minded people who want to be prepared for jobs, careers, and/or paid or volunteer community involvements in improving one or more aspects of education—from pre-school through high school to higher education, and also including adult and community education.

This program is especially suited to students who are interested in promoting the development of learner-centered forms of education and/or in the role of education in working toward social changes for justice, sustainability and multiculturalism, either inside and outside of established schools and other educational institutions.

The program is not designed for those seeking careers and jobs that require teachers’ credentials or school administration credentials or that require an accredited graduate degree. Graduates of this program may aim to seek employment in non-profits, some alternative private schools, nongovernmental organizations, or to start their own organizations or become self-employed.

Graduates of this program may also aim to bring about changes and reform in communities and organizations, and to start their own programs and initiatives–in working toward social changes for justice, sustainability and multiculturalism through community and organizational leadership.

This program requires 36 semester units of graduate study, including required course work and individualized study, most of which is in the interdisciplinary field of community leadership and justice.

This program prepares students for Leadership in Education and for Community Leadership roles concerned with both social justice and the importance of learner-centered education.

Community Leadership:


This is an exceptionally innovative and extremely distinctive program of graduate level and personalized studies, and it aims to prepare students for positions, careers, and/or community involvement in community leadership and creative change–in the professional fields of human services and community development. This program is also well-suited for those wishing to act as community leaders and change agents in small businesses, grassroots community organizations, and activist groups, and as self-employed or retired engaged citizens. WISR students are strongly motivated people, who find WISR’s learner-centered methods well-suited to their needs and purposes, and who are confident that WISR can help them to achieve a high level of expertise in action-research and in their chosen field(s)—in community leadership and/or education, and their particular areas of professional practice.

This program, like all of WISR’s educational programs, is suited for learners with many different types of future goals, including but not limited to:  changing careers, pursuing advancement in one’s existing career, becoming more capable and more meaningfully engaged in one’s existing job or career niche, or making contributions to others and to the larger community as an unpaid expert drawing on one’ professional knowledge, skill and talents.

WISR’s MS in Education and Community Leadership is aimed to meet the needs of innovatively-minded people who want the responsibility and opportunity to serve as leaders in educating and joining with others to improve their communities, and to do so, while being mindful of such “bigger picture” concerns as social justice, sustainability, and multicultural and class inclusiveness in decision-making. Special emphasis is given to the role of education–particularly to strategies of adult and community education, in leadership and working with others to bring about constructive changes. Over the years, WISR students, aiming to prepare or further develop themselves as community leaders, have focused on such issues as: improved health education and access to address health disparities, the unmet needs of low-income elders, the challenges facing youth who age out of the foster care system, violence prevention and gang reduction, the potential of urban farming, Native American rights and cultural preservation, the significant and remaining challenges to achieve equality and civil rights for marginalized groups, workplace bullying, gender inequality, domestic violence, mass media and racial discrimination, prison reform, racial profiling, and community economic development, among others.  Sometimes, WISR students focus on one or more aspects of education—from pre-school through high school to higher education, and especially adult and community education. WISR has attracted creative, dedicated learners concerned with local, as well as national and global, problems and solutions. Across these various interests, many WISR students, and faculty, have worked in different communities, in different types of organizations, and with people of many varied ages, ethnic groups, interests and commitments. Across these various involvements, there have been some recurring themes:  the importance of working on the immediate tasks as well as the “bigger picture,” finding ways to create constructive solutions rather than merely reacting to the prevailing constraints, and developing an awareness of and commitment to diversity and to multicultural inclusiveness.

WISR’s MS Education and Community Leadership and Justice is well suited to those interested in becoming skilled and sensitive leaders and community educators, devoted to solving local and immediate problems, while also working for the longer-term, larger social changes. The program can be valuable for people pursuing careers in non-profit community agencies, small businesses, activist and grassroots organizations, international NGOs, and as self-employed or retired engaged citizens. In particular, WISR encourages people to apply whose purposes and interests re within the interdisciplinary scope of this MS program, and who are aiming to develop distinctive career niches for themselves.

Educational Leadership:


This program also aims to prepare students for positions, careers, and/or community involvement in leadership and creative change in the field of education.  WISR students are strongly motivated people, who find WISR’s learner-centered methods well-suited to their needs and purposes, and who are confident that WISR can help them to achieve a high level of expertise in action-research and in their chosen field(s)—in community leadership and education, and their particular areas of professional practice.

This program, like all of WISR’s educational programs, is suited for learners with many different types of future goals, including but not limited to: changing careers, pursuing advancement in one’s existing career, becoming more capable and more meaningfully engaged in one’s existing job or career niche, or making contributions to others and to the larger community as an unpaid expert drawing on one’ professional knowledge, skill and talents.

WISR’s MS in Education and Community Leadership is aimed to meet the needs of innovatively-minded people who want to improve one or more aspects of education—from pre-school through high school to higher education, and also including adult and community education. Quite importantly, this program also aims to develop educators who are able and inclined to assume the role of community leaders as part of the “bigger picture” of their roles as educators. WISR has attracted creative, dedicated learners concerned with such varied topics as second language instruction, the preservation of indigenous language and culture through education, continuing education for professionals concerned with such specific topics as workplace bullying, the development of labor-oriented studies in school curricula, the development of ethnic studies curricula and more culturally inclusive studies of history, the role and importance of play in early childhood education, methods for training therapists who wish to combine somatic and verbal approaches in working with survivors of major forms of trauma, the development of educational programs for people in prison, to those educators, other professionals, and other citizens aiming to make an impact on the field of education, improving vocational and technical education curricula in an institution serving students from many countries from all over the world, providing education in methods of non-violent communication for adults in various different cultures, among a host of other important and distinctive concerns with educational innovation and improvement. Across these various interests, many WISR students, and faculty, are often committed to the importance of improved multicultural education, and the use and further development of learner-centered approaches to education.

WISR’s MS program track in Education is well suited to students who are interested in promoting the development of learner-centered forms of education and/or in the role of education in working toward social changes for justice, sustainability and multiculturalism, either inside and outside of established schools and other educational institutions. The program is not designed for those seeking careers and jobs that require teachers’ credentials or school administration credentials or that require an accredited graduate degree. Graduates of this program may aim to seek employment in non-profits, some alternative private schools, nongovernmental organizations, or to start their own organizations or become self-employed. WISR encourages people to apply whose purposes and interests re within the interdisciplinary scope of this MS program, and who are aiming to develop distinctive professional career niches for themselves.

Program Goals, Learning Outcomes and Measures

Program goals are guided by several important considerations:

  1. WISR’s MS in Education and Community Leadership program goals, outcomes and curriculum is guided by WISR’s institutional vision to be a “hub for community-based, social-action organizations and leaders that use higher learning and adult education to bring innovative theory into action for positive social change.”

  2. In addition, the MS in Education and Community Leadership program goals, outcomes and curriculum is guided by WISR’s mission values and the learning “meta-competencies” that are derived from that mission and values—that is, self-directed learning, action-oriented inquiry, multiculturalism, social justice, effective communication and collaboration, and the value of using one’s studies to build bridges to the future) further augment the State’s requirements and expectations.

  3. Finally, in implementing the program goals through program outcomes, course outcomes, module outcomes, and measures, indicators, and evaluation rubrics, we draw on the first two areas of consideration, and also on the knowledge gained through WISR’s history of offering academic degree programs for community leaders and innovative educators wishing to bring about improvements in schools, organizations, local communities and the larger society. This knowledge is augmented by the collective academic and professional experience and knowledge of WISR’s faculty.

1. Develop capable and innovative leaders who can make valuable contributions to schools, colleges, professions, community-based programs, local communities and/or the larger society.

These learners will be able to:

  1. Develop, Evaluate and Apply knowledge of theories and practices of leadership, in organizational and school settings, in grassroots community work, and in efforts toward larger societal changes toward greater justice and the promotion of diversity and inclusiveness.

  2. Develop among those aiming to be effective leaders and innovators in community organizations and schools, and in local community settings, as well as in the larger society, “competent” knowledge and skills, as defined by the Dreyfus Model of Knowledge and Skill Development* [see bottom of this section]. That is, using from the perspective of the Dreyfus Model, develop the knowledge of a “competent” expert within the domain of leadership.

  3. Understand, evaluate, and apply a variety of theories, key concepts, evidence-based findings, and practices pertaining to the interdisciplinary domain of educational and community innovation and leadership, as indicated by an understanding of the strengths, limitations, and realms of applicability of these theories and practices.

  4. Develop creative competence in at least one area of leadership specialization.

  5. Develop an awareness of the relevance for competent leaders of multicultural concerns and perspectives, as well as of the connections between specific leadership issues and such larger matters as social justice and equality, and bring this awareness to critical study of theories, key concepts, evidence-based findings, and practices to the efforts aimed at leadership and innovation.

  6. Develop skills of “learning how to learn”—methods of action-research, skills as a self-directed learning with capacity for critical thinking and improvisational problem-solving–to advance their specialized knowledge and skills for effective practice as a leader.

A: MS Program-Specific Learning Outcomes

The student will demonstrate that they:

  1. Understand research, theories, key concepts, and professional practices in leadership. Key areas in which the student must demonstrate an understanding include, quite notably:

    a. Leadership and Collaboration with others.

    b. Leadership in Contributing to Innovation and Change

    c. Grassroots Community Leadership and Community Well-Being

    d. Educational Leadership for Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities

    e. Understanding Diversity and Creating Inclusiveness

    f. Addressing the Challenges of Hate and Racism

 

  1. Evaluate key theories and methods of leadership, as indicated by:

    a. Evaluating the strengths and limitations of a variety of leadership theories and practices,

    b. Evaluating the circumstances in which specific leadership theories and methods are likely to be usefully applied.

 

  1. Apply skills of conscious and deliberate planning in pursuing goals as a leader, as indicated by making critical comparisons of alternative courses of action. In doing so, they will:

    a. Evaluate the relevance and efficacy of their recommended plan(s) of action.

    b. Evaluate uncertainties and dilemmas faced by leaders in the field, and

    c. Evaluate directions for inquiry to investigate alternative courses of action growing out of these dilemmas, uncertainties, and complexities.

 

  1. Create theoretical applications and strategic practices in at least one area of specialization, and within one specific setting of educational or community leadership, as indicated especially in their Master’s thesis and course-based action-research projects.

 

  1. Apply skills of doing an effective, critically minded and comprehensive review of the literature in an area of special interest to the student, as indicated by:

    a. applying a variety of strategies for searching for relevant sources

    b. evaluating quality and credibility of sources

    c. effectiveness in discussing and presenting findings, gaps in knowledge, limitations in existing research, and directions for future research.

Evaluation of these outcomes

These outcomes will be evidenced in the written assignments for each course–and guided and evaluated by course learning outcomes and module learning outcomes within each course. They will also be evaluated and evidenced through their course-based action-research projects, their written assignments in courses, their ongoing dialogue with faculty and the oral exams in each course, in the thesis, and in their collaborations with others, such as in seminars and the online forum.

In addition to the above-mentioned MS program-specific PLOs, MS students must demonstrate the following general PLOs:

WISR General Program Learning Areas and Outcomes for MS Students

The student will:

B: Self-Directed Learning.  

Demonstrate skills as a self-directed learner, as indicated by critically minded, intentional, and improvisational learning in doing their course assignments and thesis.

C: Action-Research. 

Engage in critically informed uses of methods of participatory and action-research in the pursuit of specialized knowledge and competent leadership, especially as indicated through their action-research projects and thesis.

D: Multiculturalism and Inclusiveness. 

Demonstrate an awareness of issues of diversity and inclusiveness, by showing a sensitivity to the issues involved in working as a leader with diverse populations, as indicated in their writing, dialogue, thesis and/or action-research projects.

E: Social Change and Justice. 

Analyze the connections of leadership practices aimed at specific educational and/or community problems and challenges, with bigger picture issues and dynamics, by showing in their writing, dialogue and/or action-research projects that they are inquiring into ways of creating change for social justice, greater equality and environmental sustainability, as part of the pursuit of specialized knowledge and effective leadership and innovation.

F: Communication and Collaboration. 

a. Demonstrate skills of clear and engaging written communication, by a) writing clearly and in a well-organized fashion, b) showing that they can intentionally identify and communicate to a chosen audience(s), and c) using their own voice on topics that matter to them.

b. Demonstrate skills of effective oral communication and collaboration, as indicated in a) their action-research projects or thesis with people from more than one background, and b) in seminars and informal dialogue with other students and with faculty, and

c. Produce a thesis that, with only further, modest revisions, is of sufficient quality to be considered seriously for professional publication

 

G: Build Bridges to the Future. 

  • Demonstrate an awareness of employment opportunities, of if they prefer, meaningful volunteer opportunities, as a leader and innovator in community organizations, schools, or another relevant setting, appropriate to their specialized capabilities, experience, and interests.
  • Begin building bridges, i.e., specific action steps, to their post-graduate involvements, especially as indicated in their action-research projects and Master’s thesis.

 

Evaluation of these outcomes

These outcomes will be evidenced in the written assignments for each course–and guided and evaluated by course learning outcomes and module learning outcomes within each course. They will also be evaluated and evidenced through the student’s practicum, their course-based action-research projects, their ongoing dialogue with faculty and the oral exams in each course, in the thesis, and in their collaborations with others, such as in seminars and the online forum.

The Dreyfus Model is Used to Evaluate the Effectiveness of WISR’s Degree Programs, and to conceptualize the interconnections of degree program learning outcomes. The stages of the Dreyfus Model that are used at WISR are:

  • the stage of “competent” serving as an orienting learning goal to guide students and faculty in the Master’s programs at WISR, and
  • the stage of “proficient” providing an orienting learning goal for students and faculty in the Doctoral program.

From time to time, we have seminars on this Model at WISR, to engage students and faculty in reflecting on and discussing how to make use of it to aid learning at WISR.  Here are a few highlights to consider.

The “competent” expert comes to appreciate that simple recipes do not adequately address the nuances of, variations in, and complexity of real-life situations. As Master’s students progress in their studies, and are engaged in many levels of learning—for example, the levels articulated in Bloom’s taxonomy: understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating—their behavior and learning are increasingly characterized by the following indicators of the “competent” stage of expert knowledge and skills. They:

  • Engage in deliberate planning
  • Understand the importance of each specific context/situation
  • Use guidelines, not rules, to determine their actions
  • Are emotionally involved in the outcomes of their actions (a strong sense of Responsibility) (commitment)
  • Use what they see to be the most valuable and “relevant perspectives” for each situation, rather than relying on rules. They may not have the creativity of a proficient expert to develop a new theory or strategy, but they will strategically analyze and evaluate what they have learned to make an educated choice about what they see to be the situationally most appropriate action or plan, from among their knowledge of the “available alternatives.” So, they:
  • Analyze and evaluate what they have learned, and then also make judgements based on their experiences

To learn more about the Dreyfus model go to: https://www.nateliason.com/blog/become-expert-dreyfus  and

http://www2.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/ai/cache/Socrates.html

And also:  Chapter 5, Cases and Stories of Transformative Action Research. Bilorusky, J.  Routledge Press, 2021.

MFT Program Regulations and Licensing

The vast majority of WISR students are mature adults with significant work and family responsibilities, time demands and commitments. Most students will progress at a rate approximately equivalent to half-time enrollment. WISR’s tuition is very affordable, even in comparison to other private institution’s rates for half-time enrollment. All WISR students pay the same tuition, and those students who are able to pursue their studies with an intensity and at a pace comparable to students who are seriously engaged full-time students will very likely be able to graduate in 40 to 50 percent of the estimated time for studies in WISR degree programs.

For many students pursuing a MS degree in Education and Community Leadership the length of study at WISR may be expected to be as much as 4 years, unless they are able to study at the intensity of a seriously engaged full-time student.* Some students complete this program in about two years. Typically, the maximum allowable length of study toward the Master’s in Education and Community Leadership degree at WISR is 4 years. Faculty review student progress semi-annually to facilitate each student’s efforts to complete their degree within this maximum amount of time. Students who are consistently engaged in their studies, but who are slowed down due to disabilities or other extenuating factors may petition WISR faculty for permission to take somewhat longer than 4 years to complete their studies.

In all cases, faculty will strive to support students in their efforts to complete their degree in a timely manner, while also benefiting from their studies at WISR in ways that will help them build bridges to the next important life goals.

*These program length expectations do not include any time off for leaves of absence due to matters resulting from health issues, family responsibilities or periods of financial hardship. Each leave of absence must be for a minimum of six months, during which time the student does not pay tuition, and during which time the student may not receive credit for any efforts related to their studies at WISR. The student pays a non-refundable $250 re-enrollment fee when resuming their studies, $50 of which is the re-enrollment application fee, and $200 of which is for them to re-register in the degree program they are pursuing or for the degree program in which they are taking courses.

The recommendation of a MS student’s readiness to begin the culminating Master’s thesis is made by the primary faculty adviser, usually only after at least three-fourths of the other requirements have been completed. At that time, the student writes a thesis proposal, which outlines (1) the major issues and questions to be addressed, (2) the significance of those issues to the student and to others, and (3) the sources of information, the methods of inquiry, and (if appropriate) the modes of action to be used.

The student then constitutes, with her or his major faculty adviser’s help, a Graduation Review Board composed of at least two WISR Graduate Faculty members, and since December 2018, one or more outside experts in the student’s field. The Review Board members comment on, critique, and approve the student’s proposal. The proposal then serves as a general guide for the student’s thesis inquiry. However, it is subject to change, and the student is expected to discuss his or her thesis progress with each Review Board member throughout the work on the thesis. Review Board members comment on and critique at least one rough draft, but usually two drafts. The student’s major faculty adviser helps to facilitate and mediate disagreements if Review Board members make inconsistent suggestions for change. We recommend to students, but do not require, that they identify two (or more) current and/or former WISR students to be part of a “peer support group” to aid them in the work on their thesis or dissertation—by serving as a sounding board and support group to discuss their progress and challenges, and in some cases, to read and comment on student drafts or portions of drafts when requested to do so by the student.

Faculty serving on a Graduation Review Board shall have been active in their field of scholarship or profession during the five-year period preceding their participation on the Review Board.

Once the faculty adviser and the student are confident that all Review Board members are ready to approve the thesis, a final Graduation Board meeting is held. At that time, Review Board validates that the student is responsible for their work on thesis, and the student discusses and answers questions about the thesis and their learning in working on it, and throughout the entire degree program. The student is questioned about their future plans, and how the experience at WISR will contribute to the student’s future work. The Review Board may also examine the student’s academic accomplishments throughout the program, and discuss them with the student. Finally, each graduating student is required to submit a written self-evaluation, which includes a critical reflection on what she or he has learned in the program, and a discussion of insights gained, challenges and obstacles encountered, and WISR’s strengths and weaknesses in contributing to the student’s learning.

All entering MS in Education and Community Leadership students must enroll in a three semester unit course on “Learning the WISR Way.” In this course, students read articles about WISR’s approach to learning, including self-directed, learner-centered education; discuss these articles with WISR faculty; interview alumni and currently enrolled students to learn more about WISR’s approach to learning.

Description and Goals: “This is an introductory course, required of WISR students in all degree programs, which is designed to enable students to progress more effectively toward the successful completion of the degree program at WISR, so that students can get the most from their WISR education—in pursuing their learning passions and career interests, in developing the core meta-competencies valued at WISR, and in building bridges for themselves to the next significant things they wish to do in their lives. Students read and study the methods of “Learning the WISR way”–studying the theories and strategies of WISR’s approach to transformative learning for professional and community leadership, as well as learning from stories and specific examples drawn from the experiences of other WISR students.

Also, students are introduced to methods of note-taking and writing in their own voice, as well as the use of professional conventions in formal writing and strategies of effective online research. In this course, students reflect on, discuss and write about what they are learning in the course, and the culminating papers are a reflective autobiographical essay, a preliminary educational plan and a self-assessment inventory of strengths, challenges, needs, and opportunities in the pursuit of their future goals and learning.”

In writing these papers, students must include a statement of how and why WISR’s self-paced, learner-centered methods are appropriate for them—with fewer hours in traditional, large classrooms, and more time spent for 6 or more hours per week in one-on-one mentoring sessions and small group seminar discussions.

Learners must include in their autobiographical statement, learning plan, and self-assessment, an analysis of how and why distance learning at WISR is feasible for them, and will result in their being able to meet their needs and accomplish their goals.

These statements are to be discussed, reviewed and approved by at least one member of the WISR faculty.

Finally, this course is also used to introduce and orient new students to 1) WISR’s career center and resources, and 2) WISR’s library resources, the library resources of other libraries and online databases which WISR will enable or help students to access.

The Program Requirements and Course Descriptions

Course Requirements:

36 semester units of required coursework, electives, and thesis.

Required Courses:

Introductory Course—This required course must be taken first.  

MS 501: Learning the WISR Way: Introduction to Transformative Learning for Professional and Community Leadership (3 semester units)

This is an introductory course, required of WISR Master’s students, except for those who have been previously enrolled at WISR, and except for students in the MS in Psychology program (leading to the MFT and/or LPCC license). However, MFT/LPCC students are strongly encouraged to either review the information in this course, even if they don’t do all the assignments, or to take the course for additional, elective credit. This course is carefully and thoroughly designed to enable students to progress more effectively toward the successful completion of the degree program at WISR, so that they can get the most from their WISR education:

  • in pursuing their learning passions and career interests,
  • in pursuing the core, learning goals emphasized at WISR,
  • in achieving the learning outcomes for their WISR degree program, and
  • in building bridges for themselves to the next significant things they wish to do in their lives.

In this course, Master’s students will also engage in critical analysis of how WISR’s mission and learning methods apply to their field of major interest. Students will also become familiar with WISR’s curriculum methods and requirements, collaborative opportunities, and institutional policies and practices. In addition, students will meet with some members of the WISR learning community and find out how to take advantage of the academic resources that are available—including online library resources and databases that are free and/or paid by WISR, as well as free and low-cost online resources accessible to the student. Required course (unless previously enrolled at WISR). 3 semester units.

Required Courses that include an action-research lab:

MS 511: Action-Research Methods for Educators, Other Professionals and Community Leaders (5 semester units)—This course must be the second course taken.

This course involves an in-depth study of action-research methods, including specific techniques and the overall logic and perspectives used. It includes qualitative and community-based participatory research for expert use by educators, other professionals, change agents and community leaders. The ultimate goal of the course is to enable the student to learn how to, and also to be successfully engaged in independently designing and conducting his or her action-research projects, either on her or his own or with a lead role in collaborating with others. This course will explore a variety of ways in which research can be combined with action—for example, in reflecting on the effectiveness of one’s professional practices and community improvement efforts, including how to do program evaluations and community needs assessments, as well as the use of research in formulating new programs and policies. The course will involve a thorough and critical analysis of key ideas in the logic of research design, including the concepts of validity and reliability—examining parallels between the criteria for rigorous research in the natural sciences and action-research used in professional practice and leadership in areas related to human services, education, community improvement and social change. It includes advanced study of methods of data gathering and analysis using participant observation, interviewing, storytelling.

This should be one of the first three courses that the student studies during their degree program, because it provides a methodological foundation for studies throughout the degree program. Also, it is strongly recommended that that the student pursue this course concurrently with another course that requires a full-scale, action-research lab—so that the student can apply in greater depth some of the action-research methods that they are being introduced to in this course.

 

MS 541: The Role of Community Leadership: Contemporary Issues, Theories, and History—Specific Challenges and Larger Issues of Justice, and Multiculturalism (5 semester units)

The study of a variety of contemporary issues in community leadership. How do people assume a role of community leader, or of professional or organizational leader? This course involves the study of theories, methods and practices of community leadership in the context of the “bigger picture”—history, society, social philosophy, and the future prospects and challenges for social change. What are the main, contemporary issues and disagreements about issues of social justice and change, environmental sustainability, racism and multiculturalism? What is the role and nature of leadership in a democratic society, and what does this have to do with concepts such as equality, justice, meritocracy, elitism and excellence. What are current reform movements, and current debates and what are the competing interests and philosophies involved? The course will consider community control, Federal standards and authority, and corporate influence, among other competing interests. What is the impact of the mass media, technology and the internet on leadership and how can good leadership use these constructively? This course will include some topics drawn from the study of American history, including themes of democracy, social injustices, and multiculturalism, and the relevance of leadership to such concerns. For example, how can leaders address issues of social justice and multiculturalism? What is the value of different types of leadership, expertise, and knowledge?

 

MS 542: The Role of Leadership in Education: Contemporary Issues, Theories, and History—Specific Challenges and Larger Issues of Justice, and Multiculturalism (5 semester units)

This course involves the study of theories, methods, contemporary issues, and practices of education in the context of both everyday challenges and the “bigger picture. How do people learn? How is learning assessed and how can such assessments contribute to or impede learning? What are the main issues and disagreements about successful forms of, and approaches to, education and learning? How can educators become more attuned to individual differences, to the needs, purposes and styles of learning of each learner. What strategies and varied practices support learner-centered education? What are current reform movements, and current debates and what are the competing interests and philosophies involved? The course includes a consideration of the relevance of education to matters of democracy, social justice and multiculturalism—today, and in American history. This course includes a study of both formal education and “natural” learning processes, in relation to how education and learning promote or impede social justice and multiculturalism. What might be the role of education, liberating learning methods, and educational leadership in addressing such societal dynamics as colonialism, globalization, imperialism, racism, prejudice, sexism, population diversity and various societal conflicts–as well as on such ideals as “tolerance,” “free speech,” and the “meritocracy”? This course draws significantly on enlightenment philosophy, progressive era ideas such as those of John Dewey, the work of Paulo Freire, feminism, and the ideologies and philosophies in action of those who have promoted inclusive and democratic visions for society. In this context, the course examines the possible roles of leadership and of education—as they have been, and as they could be, and students are encouraged to develop their own perspectives on the role of education in creating a better tomorrow.

 

MS 590: Review and Assessment of Knowledge in One’s Field of Specialization (5 semester units).

This course builds on the student’s previous coursework, and specialized projects done as part of that coursework. The student engages in additional, in depth study of a topic that is central to their Master’s studies and future plans to use their expert knowledge as a professional and/or community leader. Students will review and evaluate the literature in their field of specialization, and/or survey and study existing practices. These in-depth studies should include, among other methods of learning, library and online research, as well as critically reflective analysis and writing about what they’ve previously learned. In many cases, students may conduct interviews and make observations in the community and in professional practice settings. The student evaluates, organizes and synthesizes the highlights of their knowledge in their area of specialization.

 

MS 599: Master’s Thesis (7 semester units)

The Master’s thesis is an in-depth study of a topic of strong interest to the student, and one that generally helps the student build bridges for him/herself to the next important things she or he wishes to do with her/his life—as a professional, and a leader. The student makes use of what he or she has learned at WISR about action-research methods to do a serious and substantial inquiry that involves some original data collection by the student. It is an inquiry that is based on action and/or that has action implications of some significance to the student and/or others. In particular, the Master’s thesis makes a worthwhile contribution to the professional field, or to community leadership.

The following are specific, expected outcomes for the Master’s thesis:

  • Students will build on, critically reflect on, and synthesize many of the things they have learned previously—during their MFT studies at WISR, and delve more deeply into a specific topic of significance to themselves and to others in the field.
  • The scope and depth of the Master’s Thesis should demonstrate expert knowledge of the topic studied, based on the student’s experiences, a literature review, and the collection and analysis of some original data.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to use action-research methods in the conduct of a project that is important to them and to others in the field.
  • Students will use their Master’s thesis—the process and/or outcomes—to build a bridge to the next significant things they plan to do in their life and professional work.
  • The scope and depth of the Master’s Thesis should demonstrate expert knowledge of the topic studied, based on the student’s experiences, a literature review, and the collection and analysis of some original data.
  • Since the thesis is the culmination of Master’s studies, students will demonstrate their competencies in many of the MS program’s overall learning objectives–especially in the areas developing skills and knowledge as a self-directed learner, expertise in methods of participatory and action-research, ability to communicate clearly and meaningfully to one’s audience(s), ability to pursue successfully employment and/or leadership roles in the community, and expertise in the interdisciplinary field of education and community leadership as well as in one or more areas of specialization.

 

Elective Courses:

(Students must take two of these courses, which do not include an action-research lab, 3 semester units, each):

 

MS 571: Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (3 semester units)

Study of the dynamics of dignity—and its violation through individual and systemic forms of humiliation—is crucial in today’s highly interconnected world. Growing awareness of these dynamics brings to the forefront the realization that past social, political, and economic practices, once accepted and considered helpful, may now be perceived as deeply humiliating. This course will explore how today’s rapidly changing social, political, and environmental conditions require us to dramatically alter how we participate in relationships. It proposes that escalating social instability, political unrest, violent conflict, economic injustice, and climate change can be the impetus to design innovative, sustainable, and mutually dignifying solutions to these problems. In particular, this course will examine how cultivating systemic dignity—at home and around the globe—creates space for mutually beneficial arrangements of relationships to emerge, relationships that provide for the full participation, growth, and development of all people while we seek sustainable solutions to global crises.

 

MS 581: Critical Environmental Literacy (3 semester units)

This course will focus on current critical environmental issues (both local and global), and explore several of the themes essential for citizens today that can be integrated into community and professional leadership roles, as well as personal contexts. Can we call ourselves an educated citizenry if we fail to address the challenges of environmental sustainability and planetary survival? Because the current model of “global economic growth” holds little regard for environmental sustainability and social justice, preparing people for the choices they face as citizens must be strongly linked to making the Earth a better place for all. This course provides an understanding of the interdependence of people and ecosystems around the globe. We will look at how environmental issues negatively affect indigenous people and people of color disproportionately. In this course we will read and study documentary videos that present issues or dilemmas to inspire deep, and critical, reflection. These will include a variety of current and ongoing issues, not always covered by mainstream media.  The course will ask students to reflect on and analyze the contributions to environmental sustainability that might be made by those with roles in education and community leadership.

MS 591: Student-Designed, Faculty-Approved Independent Study (3 semester units)

Subject to the approval of a WISR faculty member, and using the guidelines for academic engagement per credit hour adopted for other WISR courses, the student may design a course that fits into one of the following categories:

  1. the student may adapt, with faculty assistance and approval, one personalized WISR MS course—that draws on the content and methods of a WISR MS in Psychology (MFT) program course or an EdD program course, modified to have objectives and assignments appropriate for students in this MS program in Education and Community Leadership;
  2. may design with other students and/or faculty, and/or community colleagues, a course, on a topic relevant to this degree program, but not currently offered, subject to faculty approval, or
  3. design an internship or independent study project that address MS program degree requirements, and that is outside the realm of other WISR courses in this program.

The Five Steps to Admission

Reach Out to Us and Connect

Call to meet us at 1-510-655-2830.

We will want to have two to three conversations with you including an interview. During our conversation we will arrange for you the following opportunities:

  1. Speak with current students or alumni
  2. Speak with one or more faculty members
  3. Attend one or more WISR seminars

Call to meet us at 1-510-655-2830.

Important Documents to Read Before Applying

Read these webpages and formulate further questions:

Your Alignment with WISR’s Mission

Important: In preparation for your interview, we ask that throughout your reading you consider whether WISR’s mission statement and the focus of your program of interest is:

  1. Aligned with your own values and therefore something you find inspiring
  2. Aligned with your intentions and sense of purpose in life
  3. Aligned with activities you have already pursued in your life

This is the link to the “Admissions Application and Interview Form.” 

As part of the application process, all admissions to study at WISR are made on the basis of intensive conversations with applicants about their goals, interests, and backgrounds, and applicants are told about the kinds of learning and action that are involved in studying with us. Initial discussions may be informal.

Thereafter, each serious applicant is asked to file a formal application for admission, by filling out:

  1. The Admissions Application and Interview Form,
  2. submitting transcripts of previous college-level study to verify that the student has met WISR’s admissions requirements and to verify any transfer credit requested, and
  3. providing two letters of recommendation from others who can attest to the student’s readiness for further academic study.
  4. The application for admission must also include a written statement describing the scope and significance of the applicant’s study and future objectives, assessing how well these fit with study at WISR, and discussing the applicant’s commitments to professional and community work.

WISR is interested in working with students who find a common bond with the Institute’s stated philosophy and goals.

We are also interested in students who have given some thought to their educational goals and have an initial clarity about them, although we recognize that goals frequently change as a student’s course of study progresses.

WISR also seeks students who want a flexible program, tailored to their individual needs, but who also want discipline and rigor in their studies.

These and other issues are discussed frankly and openly with each serious applicant, and students’ intelligent self-selection to study at WISR is very deliberately emphasized.

Many tentatively interested inquirers are discouraged from formally applying if their specific interests, personal maturity, or resources of time and money do not promise success in study here. We help many potential applicants to find other ways of pursuing their studies elsewhere.

As part of the application process, each applicant must discuss her or his background and objectives with a core faculty member, usually WISR’s President or Chief Academic Officer. Interested persons are routinely encouraged to visit WISR seminars and to talk with other faculty, students, and Board members of WISR, to gain several perspectives on study at WISR and a sense of the learning community that they may be joining.

 

Set Up Your Interview

Call us and arrange for your interview. In preparation for the interview, we think it is valuable for you to read the questions we will be asking the topics we will be discussing in advance. Here’ the link to the “Admissions Application and Interview Formwhich makes that clear. 

About the Interview

As part of the application process, each applicant must discuss her or his background and objectives with WISR’s President or Chief Academic Officer. This meeting is both an “admissions interview” and an exploration, together, of how well WISR’s distinctive approach to learning and our specific State-licensed degree offerings, will meet the prospective student’s needs and enable him or her to have a strong likelihood of using a WISR program in the meaningful and successful pursuit of his or her short- and long-term goals.

Prospective students are urged to have a face-to-face meeting at WISR; however, if it is more convenient, or if the student is living at a distance, two or more in depth phone or video conversations often suffice. An hour-long conversation is scheduled so that the prospective student will not feel rushed, and indeed, students are welcome, and even expected, to have more than one conversation with WISR’s President or Chief Academic Officer.

After extensive discussions, most prospective enrollees are able to judge the kinds of student autonomy and commitment that study at WISR requires. Most applicants who do not have the necessary qualifications screen themselves out voluntarily.

The purpose of the conversations and interviews is to help each person to make a very informed decision about whether or not to apply for admissions, and also to enable the Chief Academic Officer and/or the President, sometimes in consultation with other faculty, make the decision to admit the prospective student, based on whether or not they are likely to benefit from studying at WISR. 

The WISR “Admissions Application and Interview Form” shows how much we place a priority on admitting those prospective students who understand WISR’s learning methods and mission, whether or not a WISR degree is likely to aid them in achieving their future goal and who are likely to succeed in learning and pursuing an academic degree at WISR.

 

If admitted, call us to set up your start date and arrange your enrollment meeting in which you sign your enrollment agreement and set up your payment plan. 

In preparation for the enrollment meeting, make sure you have read the following WISR documents: 

WISR’s Catalog

WISR’s Consumer Disclosures

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