November 19, 2020

UW-Superior introduces new Public Leadership and Innovation Major

Dr. Khalil  (Haji) Dokhanchi will be one of the professors who will teach courses in the new Public Leadership and Innovation Major.

Dr. Khalil (Haji) Dokhanchi will be one of the professors who will teach courses in the new Public Leadership and Innovation Major.

Program prepares students to be change agents and problem solvers

The University of Wisconsin-Superior has announced the addition of a new Bachelor of Science major – Public Leadership and Innovation (PLI) – which will begin Fall 2021.

The new major is the culmination of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to design an interdisciplinary major that draws upon the strengths of existing departments and faculty at UW-Superior while addressing an area of opportunity and unmet need in the region.

The PLI major has been enthusiastically supported by regional leaders in the nonprofit, civic, government and local Indigenous communities, as well as prospective students. The major is available to on-campus and distance students.

“This major is starting at a pivotal time, when many young people are interested in addressing issues in our country that have recently been laid bare,” said Lynn Goerdt, associate professor of social work and program coordinator. “Now is the time to reverse the future impact of issues like poverty, climate change, public health, wealth inequality, and more. We really need this major now to prepare students with the knowledge and skills to be problem solvers.”

Goerdt explained that while drawing from disciplines such as social work, political science, economics, First Nations, sustainable management, writing, history and more, the PLI major is unique in its focus on understanding systemic issues, combined with practical skills development.

“While social work is about empowering individuals, and political science is at the 30,000-foot level of overarching change, the PLI major sits in between, preparing students to work toward solutions to community issues,” said Goerdt.

The PLI major has five required courses, including a First Nations contemporary issues course and a course on community-based-research methods. It also includes elective courses, a required internship and a capstone class and project. A minor is required, allowing students to further tailor their studies toward their area of interest.

“I am thrilled to see the care taken to craft an education experience that delivers on content, skill sets, and direct experiences for students on their way to be professional advocates, public leaders, and community change agents,” said LeAnn Littlewolf, economic development director at the American Indian Community Housing Organization in Duluth.

The major was designed with input from community leaders from a wide array of organizations that have pledged ongoing support in the form of internships and hands-on learning opportunities. Focus groups composed of students, staff and community members were also convened to provide feedback in the program design phase.

“Knowing what I now know after two decades in community housing work and volunteerism, this major would have been a perfect fit for me,“ said Jeff Skrenes, housing coordinator/planner with the City of Superior. “I wholeheartedly support it and I eagerly look forward to when graduates become my colleagues.”

Dr. Khalil  (Haji) Dokhanchi will be one of the professors who will teach courses in the new Public Leadership and Innovation Major.

Dr. Khalil (Haji) Dokhanchi will be one of the professors who will teach courses in the new Public Leadership and Innovation Major.

UW-Superior Faculty/Staff

The B.S. in Public Leadership and Innovation is an interdisciplinary program that will prepare students to engage diverse constituencies to develop solutions to current and anticipated complex issues within local, regional, national, and global communities. Students gain an understanding of systemic issues and have ample opportunity for skill development and practical application through a required internship, capstone courses, and more. This major is unique in the region, making graduates highly sought by nonprofits, planning agencies, civic and public agencies, tribal government entities and many more.

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