MA in Organizational Leadership

When you step into the OSR Master’s Program you begin a journey to develop your leadership skills, expand your leadership capacity and live into your greatness. It is demanding and rewarding and will develop your competence and confidence in guiding groups and organizations.

Our intention is to provide opportunities for you to:

  • Design processes and structures for leading and managing change
  • Develop holistic perspectives about individuals, groups, organizations and the world communities
  • Recognize the synergistic qualities and opportunities inherent in living systems
  • Develop the heart (courage, love and compassion) skills and integrity to move theory to practical action
  • Develop congruence of mind, body, spirit and professional practice in order to help individuals, groups, organizations and communities manage their own transformation and renewal.

Through the OSR Master’s program, students increase their competence in consulting and contracting skills, resulting in greater flexibility in the work place and their ability to be effective in a variety of difficult contexts. Program participants also gain a clearer understanding of their work goals and of themselves, and they acquire the theory base and skills useful in managing their own personal and/or career transformation. In the process, they gain a sense of personal mastery both within their chosen work place and in their personal lives. They experience collaborative work and have numerous opportunities to reflect on their learnings.

What will the OSR Master’s program do for me?

Indicate that you have completed a rigorous program of study that is focused on developing competence in leading significant change in social systems, with a focus on organizations, and

Demonstrate that you have blended both theory and practice to apply those competencies in a real-world setting.

Dive into Your Greatness

Create your own learning experience based on principles of adult learning theory: self-direction, learning goals, relevance to life experience and practical application.

Consultation Projects

During the second year of the program, you will engage in two consultation projects with clients as a way to demonstrate your ability to move theory into practice in an organizational setting. One of these projects will be involve working with a team and the second will consist of your own capstone change project.

Student learning projects relate to their work and interests. Examples of past projects have included:

●    designing a training program using    whole-systems principles,
●    assessing or diagnosing an organization or business unit,
●    designing a whole-systems approach to process improvement, and
●    designing a change intervention.

Some students have made the development of their own business into a learning project.

*Nidumolu, Ram, Prahalad, C.K, Rangaswami, Why Sustainability is Now the Key Driver of Innovation, Harvard Business Review, September 2009, Reprint R0909E

What have past grads from the program done?

From a career development perspective, participation in OSR has led some students to advance in their career beyond the point they were when they began the program. For others, it has meant changing careers, perhaps beginning on a career ladder either somewhat related to or not related at all to the one they were on at the start of the OSR Master’s program. Whether graduates advance, stay where they have been or change careers, they do it with intentionality, enhanced choices, and a desire to contribute more.

A dynamic, interactive and collaborative interplay of student and faculty perspectives. Faculty advisors participate in all sessions as co-learners with you. There is a rich mix of disciplines, job levels, generations, and interests among program participants which, in our experience, has enhanced the learning of all participants. We utilize the diversity to build an intentional learning community.

Collaborative learning groups

During each weekend session 11 students and their faculty advisor meet to support each other’s learning.

Residential Sessions

Residential sessions provide rich, sustained, in-depth learning experience and greatly facilitate the formation of the learning community. They provide for extensive skill-building, quality time with the faculty and peers, and opportunity for reflecting on learning in the context of life and work.

Prominent visiting presenters

Engage with leading thinkers and practitioners connected to the field of organizational change.

Pinchot at 220 & Change in Seattle, WA

The 220 & Change building in the Pioneer Square neighborhood in downtown Seattle, WA is home the central Pinchot campus. This brick and old-growth timber construction with structurally reinforcing metal beams is only overshadowed by the community it houses.

Pilgrim Firs

Pilgrim Firs is a conference and retreat center embedded in the forest on the shores of Lake Flora on the Kitsap Peninsula of western Washington. This beautiful site includes 120 wooded acres where students build community while deepening their learning in a natural setting. Learners in the MA in Organizational Leadership program meet here three times for week-long sessions.

Design teams

A portion of the curriculum is designed and delivered by student-led design teams. Each year you will select a design team topic for in-depth study. These teams, mentored by a faculty advisor, offer real-time learning in design and group dynamics.

Mentoring Councils

You will create your own mentoring council to help support, clarify and challenge your learning. The committee consists of your faculty advisor, a peer advisor from the cohort and field advisors from the external community.

Schedule and Courses

OSR 21 Schedule

OSR 21 Course dates

All courses are required and must be taken in sequence.

Sessions range from 4–6 days. There are three residential sessions in Port Orchard. All other class sessions occur in person at the BGI campus in Pioneer Square.

Updated on October 22, 2013.

Fall Quarter 2014

Mon – Fri,
September 29 – October 3
Session #1 – Residential Session at Pilgrim Firs
OSR 501: Foundations of the OSR Learning Journey (4 credits)
Thu – Sun,                         November 13 – 16 Session #2 – Class Session at Pinchot at 220 & Change
OSR 502: Systems I – An Introduction to Theory and Practice (3 credits)
OSR 571: Personal Leadership Development I (2 credits)

Winter Quarter 2015

Thu – Sun,                         January 8 – 11 Session #3 – Class Session at Pinchot at 220 & Change
OSR 503: Design I – An Introduction to Theory and Practice (3 credits)
Sun – Fri,
March 1 – 6
Session #4 – Residential Session at Pilgrim Firs
OSR 504: Leadership I – An Introduction to Theory and Practice (4 credits)
OSR 572: Personal Leadership Development II (2 credits)

Spring Quarter 2015

Thu – Sun,
April 16 – 19
Session #5 – Class Session at Pinchot at 220 & Change
OSR 505: Designing and Leading Effective Meetings (3 credits)
Thu – Sun,
June 11 – 14
Session #6 – Class Session at Pinchot at 220 & Change
OSR 506: Culture as a Foundation for Inquiry (3 credits)
OSR 573: Personal Leadership Development III (2 credits)

Summer Quarter 2015

July – August Independent Synthesis Work – no sessions
OSR 510: Individual Synthesis Project (3 credits)

Fall Quarter 2015

Sun – Fri,
September 13 – 18
Session #7 – Residential Session at Pilgrim Firs
OSR 521: The Consultative Approach to Change (5 credits)
Thu – Sun,
November 12 – 15
Session #8 – Class Session at Pinchot at 220 & Change
OSR 522: Systems II – Applying Living Systems Theory (3 credits)
OSR 574: Personal Leadership Development IV (2 credits)

Winter Quarter 2016

Thu – Sun,
January 14 – 17
Session #9 – Class Session at Pinchot at 220 & Change
OSR 523: Leadership II – Disciplines and Practice of Adaptive Leadership (3 credits)
Thu – Sun,
March 10 – 13
Session #10 – Class Session at Pinchot at 220 & Change
OSR 524: Design II – Leadership from a Design Perspective (3 credits)
OSR 575: Personal Leadership Development V (2 credits)

Spring Quarter 2016

Thu – Sun,
April 7 – 10
Session #11 – Class Session at Pinchot at 220 & Change
OSR 525: Theory and Practice of Appreciative Inquiry (3 credits)
OSR 530: Organization Systems Renewal Project (3 credits)
Thu – Sun,
June 9 – 12
Session #12 – Class Session at Pinchot at 220 & Change
OSR 526: The Future of Organizational Leadership (3 credits)
OSR 576: Personal Leadership Development VI (2 credits)

OSR 21 Courses

Courses – OSR 21 (Fall 2014 – Spring 2016)

OSR 501 Foundations of the OSR Learning Journey (4 credits)

In the first course of an integrated seven-quarter program, students come together to cross the threshold into their learning journey. They are introduced to the core concepts of the program’s interdisciplinary curriculum. The concept of a learning community is intentionally formed. Students are introduced to the theory and principles of organization development, adult learning, and andragogy. In addition, students begin their individual learning journey through a variety of exercises designed to engage the whole person and facilitate coming to know Self. They pay particular attention to connecting with core values and aspirations as a foundation for connecting with their great work. Required.

OSR 502 – Systems I – An Introduction to Theory and Practice (3 credits)

This course presents an overview of systems theory including the shift from the mechanistic paradigm to one of holism and interrelatedness that focuses on the development of systems thinking habits and skills. Key systems concepts and principles such as interdependence, context, boundaries, feedback, structure, and mental models are exposed. Students learn how to see systems and apply systems thinking tools and skills in their everyday lives to address the many complex challenges found in their family, community, and organizational systems. Required.

OSR 503 – Design I – An Introduction to Theory and Practice (3 credits)

Students experience and explore design and design thinking as an intentional co-creative process of being and acting in the world. The design approach invokes creative thinking and encourages innovative action. This is necessary for leading intentional change, where organizational shifts are in sync with the system’s larger context. The course provides students with the theoretical framework and practical skills essential for helping clients imagine, conceptualize, and implement their preferred future. Creative change is explored in conjunction with the notion of “serving others” in a manner that can facilitate personal and organizational change and renewal. Required.

OSR 504 – Leadership I – An Introduction to Theory and Practice (4 credits)

Leadership development is the focus of the OSR Program. In this course, students are introduced to the evolution of leadership theory. Development of leadership and followership capability is rooted in personal learning, awareness, emotional intelligence, and mastery. This course also lays a theoretical and practical foundation in group dynamics and team development. Students gain knowledge, awareness, and skills in working with task, relationship, and process issues in teams. This course provides an opportunity for students to participate on small project-based teams. The student-led design teams provide a structure for strengthening design, leadership, and team membership skills. They also provide students with a rich and challenging setting in which to learn about themselves and how they show up and function in teams. The task of designing and delivering a learning module for an internal client, the OSR cohort, is assigned as a direct application to the design and implementation of learning modules in organizations. Required.

OSR 505 – Designing, Leading, and Participating in Meetings (3 credits)

Students gain hands-on experience and receive real-time feedback in designing and leading participative meetings to ensure that objectives are met while encouraging involvement of others. Special attention is paid to crafting key questions for appropriately engaging group members as well as to learning visual tools for working with group input. Students also learn how to give and receive clear and constructive feedback that can be received and acted upon. Course concepts are connected to professional applications.  Required.

OSR 506 – Culture as a Foundation for Inquiry (3 credits)

This course is designed for students to explore theories of organizations as a way to understand contemporary organizational practices. Special emphasis is given to organizational and personal culture. The review of organizational culture includes an examination of organizational structures such as philosophies, assumptions, values, and practices. Students will take a systemic approach to understand Self from a cultural perspective, to examine purpose as an organizing force, and to consider how we can use an understanding of the connections between human systems and organizational structures and process to develop organizations and enhance organizational effectiveness. Students will gain insight into the use of theory and culture as a foundation for organizational inquiry. Required.

OSR 510 – Individual Synthesis Project (3 credits)

This course serves the students as a mid-program progress assessment and comprehension opportunity. Students will have a choice of either writing a theory paper or conducting an application project; both are equivalent in terms of workload involved. If the student opts for the theory paper, they conduct a through literature review of a theory base related to the student’s Learning Commitment and professional interests. Based on the review, students write an academic paper summarizing and contrasting the seminal contributors to the field as well as elaborating on the theory. Understanding their theory base deepens the students’ knowledge foundation before moving into practicum level application via the OSR 530 Project. If the student opts for an application project, they design an activity in an organizational context of their choice that allows them to demonstrate the application of a specific approach to the leadership of a participative change process related to the student’s Learning Commitment and professional interests. Based on the experience and outcome of the activity, students write an academic paper presenting the theory, methodology, design, implementation, and results of the activity as well as suggesting directions for future applications in similar contexts based on the student’s learning experience.  Required.

OSR 521 – The Consultative Approach to Change (5 credits)

Students participate in and deepen their knowledge of the full consultative process: entry, contracting, data collection/interpretation, feedback, recommendations, and implementation. Students work on teams in a real consultative engagement with an external client. Teams consult on issues and opportunities specific to the innovation, renewal, health, and wholeness of human systems. Additionally, students explore team dynamics as well as the role of the self as consultant/helper, learning how personal values, self-awareness, and ethical principles are essential to any consultative relationship. This course is the final in-depth and hands-on opportunity for students to practice their competency in designing and conducting organizational development interventions before they implement their OSR project. Part of this course is conducted off-site. Required.

OSR 522 – Systems II – Applying Living Systems Theory (3 credits)

This course explores living systems theory and systems thinking and their application to working with human social systems. A leaders, change agent, or intervener must develop new skills to create the conditions for a social system to emerge in a new whole. Students explore how to design and create the conditions for a social systems to self-organize to a new and higher level of functioning by “coming along side” the emerging system to midwife it into this higher state of complexity and functionality. Required.

OSR 523 – Leadership II – Disciplines and Practice of Adaptive Leadership (3 credits)

This course focuses on the disciplines and practice of adaptive leadership in complex adaptive systems and explores the qualities of leadership and followership needed for a systemic and holistic approach to designing and leading organizations. Observation, interpretation, and intervention skills are explored and developed while students work to identify the adaptive challenge and mobilize others to do adaptive work while advancing the purpose of the organization. Required.

OSR 524 – Design II – Leadership from a Design Perspective (3 credits)

This class will explore the notion that leadership is fundamentally an act of design – imagining and implementing the formal and informal structures that enable an organization’s employees to get work done; and in the best of organizations, to thrive. We revisit some core attitudes and skills from the designer’s toolkit – from beginners mind through prototyping and experimentation – and show how they can be applied to common leadership challenges such as fostering innovation or enabling collaboration. Students are asked to use the tools of design throughout the course to understand opportunities, envision and prototype future states, and introduce change in the form of a design experiments that they will be able to apply in their organization contexts. Required.

OSR 525 – The Theory and Practice of Appreciative Inquiry (3 credits)

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a participative and powerful method for creating change in social systems. Rooted in social constructionism and the power of image, it involves a systematic discovery and mobilization of what gives a social system life in human, ecological, and economic terms. Because appreciative inquiry represents a major shift in how organizational development practitioners work with organizations, students will learn the theory and practice of this approach, particularly as it relates to taking an intentional “stance” from which one engages the world.  Required.

OSR 526 – The Future of Organizational Leadership (3 credits)

As the final course in an integrated seven-quarter program, focus is on group endings and managing transitions at the individual level as well as looking forward and leaning into the future at the learning community level. Learning in this course also involves consideration of emerging trends and new directions in the study and practice of organizational leadership. Based on their understanding of change at the individual, group, and organizational levels, students explore the characteristics of change on the global level. Examples of global change can be found in business, the economy, technology, the environment, and social issues such as poverty, disease, and education. Students explore what it takes to be ethical designers of change in the face of such complex issues, including engaging with intercultural differences as essential to the success of working on a global level. Students reflect on their OSR journey via their Exit Statement and develop a Continuance Plan for life-long learning. Required.

OSR 530 – Organization Systems Renewal Project (3 credits)

The Organization Systems Renewal (OSR) Project is the capstone project in which students demonstrate proficiency of OSR program-related core competencies as well as fulfillment of their goals as stated in their Learning Commitment. The OSR Project is conducted under the supervision of the student’s faculty advisor. An OSR Project requires program advisor sign-off before the student begins work. Required.

OSR 571 – Personal Leadership Development I (2 credits)
OSR 572 – Personal Leadership Development II (2 credits)
OSR 573 – Personal Leadership Development III (2 credits)
OSR 574 – Personal Leadership Development IV (2 credits)
OSR 575 – Personal Leadership Development V (2 credits)
OSR 576 – Personal Leadership Development VI (2 credits)

The 57X series is a sustaining and distinctive thread that runs throughout the entire two-year journey. The first year focuses intention and attention on students’ intra- and inter-personal dynamics within the learning community and on declaring their “work to do in the world.” Students practice accessing and increasing self-awareness about their personal history, their current stage of personal development, and their desired future. They engage creatively in learning about themselves, discovering their preferences, evoking their dreams and aspirations, and becoming clear about their gifts and talents.

The second year shifts intention and attention from internal to external considerations and from the student declaring their vocation to their claiming their  ”work to do in the world.” Through the development of a formal Learning Commitment, students define their vocation (interpreted as the intersection between their deep gladness and their contribution to the world) and design their own plan of action to declare and claim it. Students reflect on how they are showing up in their external environments, where  they are experiencing their learning edge as well as their “deep gladness,” and how their Theory of Practice and Learning Commitments align with their values and deep purpose. Students reflect more deeply on their external engagements while building their capacity to reflect “in action” as well as “on their action.” Required.

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