Program Overview



EXPLAINING THE 22-MONTH COURSE OF STUDIES IN THE MASTER OF ARTS PROGRAM

All students take three courses per term. Two are nine-week courses, which follow in sequence. The first is an Applied Community Change (ACC) course and the second is a Professional Skills and Knowledge (PSK) course. Running the length of the term is the third course, an eighteen-week Project Research in Community (PRC) course. The PSK course will be in a selected specialization – one of five tracks offered in the Master of Arts. This grouping of three courses repeats each term. Optional Residentials – two regional and two global – occur between the terms and connect online and field-based learning.

Across the terms, the four ACC courses introduce the theory and practice of applied community change, provide an in-depth case study of social movements in the field of health, demonstrate how movements are sustained and go to scale, and examine how our students’ communities are empowered to shape and own their futures.

Also across the terms, four PRC courses advance the students applied skills in graduate work, research methods, monitoring and evaluation of projects, their integration of natural, social, health and management sciences, and their synthesis of all courses in the Master of Arts. Also, from the first to last PRC course, students develop skills for development and field-based work, as well as an e-portfolio that showcases and synthesizes their life story, community work, research methods, partner network, and goals.

Each student’s selection of a specialization determines the four PSK courses that complete the Master of Arts. These courses within each Specialization are described below. They include specific skills and knowledge for a sector of community change and development work. The five specializations are Ecosystem Resilience in Climate Chaos, Engineering Enterprise, Leaders for Peace, Leadership & Development and Linguistic Development Education

 

Students are encouraged to enroll in credit-bearing Residentials. While these are optional given the many commitments of adult learners, the University hopes that students can attend one or more of these Residentials. They connect online and field-based learning. They place students in the context of practitioners and leaders of social movements, holistic development, and community change. They demonstrate the usefulness of skills introduced and honed in the courses. Two Residentials are regional. And two are global. They occur between terms and at the end of the 22-month Master of Arts in alignment with the Commencement Ceremony.

Future Generations University lives out the meaning of Commencement. While this is, indeed, a graduation ceremony, it is also a beginning. It connects Future.edu (graduate studies) to Future.org (our network of collaborating alumni/ae). Future.org operates as a Center within the University. The Center’s sole purpose is to further lifelong learning and collaboration through the community-based development work of colleagues (once classmates). All graduates are welcome to join Future.org, our global consortium that tracks, evaluates, publishes, convenes for further study, and helps fund the ongoing work of our scholar/leaders.

The table below lists the PSK courses within each Specialization. And Course Descriptions follow for all ACC, PRC, and PSK courses.

PSK Courses within each Specialization
Leadership & Development PSK 601 – Nonprofit Management
PSK 604 – 21st Century Communication
PSK 605 – Volunteer Management
PSK 617 – Leading Enterprise, Education & Movements
Ecosystem Resilience in Climate Chaos PSK 601 – Nonprofit Management (option)
PSK 602 – Strategic Resource Mapping
PSK 604 – 21st Century Communication
PSK 610 – Bridging & Negotiating Differences (option)
PSK 613 – Natural Resources & Conflict
Engineering Enterprise PSK 602 – Strategic Resource Mapping
PSK 609 – Comprehensive Resilient Engineering
PSK 610 – Bridging & Negotiating Differences
PSK 617 – Leading Enterprise, Education & Movements
Leaders for Peace PSK 606 – Peacebuilding & Conflict Transformation
PSK 608 – Lifelong Development Education
PSK 610 – Bridging & Negotiating Differences
PSK 617 – Leading Enterprise, Education & Movements
Linguistic Development Education PSK 607 – Theory & Practice of Language Acquisition
PSK 608 – Lifelong Development Education
PSK 610 – Bridging & Negotiating Differences
PSK 611 – Action Research for Learning Enhancement
 

ACC course descriptions

ACC 601Introduction to Community Change introduces students to SEED-SCALE as the underlying theory and method of this Master’s degree. This process allows communities to evolve site-specific designs that grow change, use resources possessed by the community, and initiate action that emerges from the community’s current socio-economic reality.

ACC 602Health for All presents different community change and development perspectives, and the bases of evidence supporting them. Its primary case study examines how health is produced and sustained within and by communities. It explores the strategies by which health and well-being can be achieved by all people, especially underserved and marginalized groups.

ACC 603Going to Scale advances knowledge to improve participatory processes of research and action with communities and agencies that support them. Traditional and alternative approaches to scaling up are introduced for critical comparison. Students develop a grant proposal or case study for expanding impact through SEED-SCALE.

ACC 604Sustainable Communities engages students in approaches to sustainable livelihoods and healthy communities. Students examine the adoption of community-centered rather than technocratic approaches to development work. They chart how communities learn to build on their own research, resources, and assets for improving their quality of life.

PRC course descriptions

PRC 601Graduate Study Foundations lays the basis for successful graduate-level inquiry. It establishes conceptual principles, develops important academic skills, and helps students master their use of the Course Management System and the e-Portfolio platform. Students explore effective strategies for peer-to-peer discourse and self-directed advanced learning.

PRC 602Social Research Methods examines how development practitioners observe and examine change in communities. Students learn to refine hypotheses of change, design holistic research methods and strategies, apply qualitative and quantitative concepts and approaches for data collection, conduct a literature review, and present findings in community contexts.

PRC 603 Monitoring and Evaluation presents a conceptual framework and practical skills for conducting iterative critical examination of programs and projects in community development work. Students learn to use suitable metrics for specific programs and projects, and focus on key performance indicators as a scientific method to simplify complex data collection and analyses.

PRC 604Synthesis & Integration guides students in the completion of their e-Portfolios, reflects on lessons learned and applied throughout this Master’s degree, develops a robust peer review of e-Portfolios, facilitates summative discourse and formative planning, and welcomes graduates to network and collaborate through Future.org.

PSK Course Descriptions:

PSK 601Nonprofit Management covers organizational skills and strategies for effective planning, funding, managing, leading, and partnering. Students gain an overview of financial management, grant writing, and reporting. They review effective methods to monitor and evaluate sustainable and scalable development projects.

PSK 602Strategic Resource Mapping examines longitudinal societal, economic, geographic, natural resource, environmental, and political metrics and mapping for technical needs, natural resources, and effective intervention in communities and countries. Students learn mapping as a tool for narrating the change of communities - their assets, needs, boundaries, and trajectory.

PSK 603Natural Resource Management presents a process for students to identify natural resource assets and build local capacities to comprehend, manage, and govern the use of these resources. This course aims to ensure that a community’s use of natural resources has positive environmental and socioeconomic impact.

PSK 60421st Century Communication introduces students to the basic tenets of branding, marketing, and using the Internet in the digital era. It equips them with skills for web design and social media. It introduces multimedia tools, platforms, and practices for effective local and global communication in the 21st century.

PSK 605Volunteer Management focuses on effective facilitation and leadership approaches to organizing and working with volunteers. Students examine the importance of the underlying motivators of why people volunteer. This course presents specific strategies for motivating, recruiting, tracking, and retaining volunteer engagement.

PSK 606Peacebuilding & Conflict Transformation understands social change as both an outcome and a source of conflict. It introduces the study of peace and conflict as integral to comprehending the process of social change. This course focuses on conflict within and between communities and how conflict can be transformed to achieve peaceful outcomes.

PSK 607Theory & Practice of Language Acquisition draws on psychology and linguistic theory to create innovative, motivating, and effective methods, techniques, and strategies for combining language and development learning. Students engage concrete steps of curriculum design and delivery for diverse age groups – elementary, secondary, tertiary, and adult learning.

PSK 608Lifelong Development Education presents the challenge of inter-generational and integrated modes of education that inform the quest for well-being. Students learn how a country’s pursuit of the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals strategizes the balance of local contextual experience with global knowledge and collaboration.

PSK 609Comprehensive & Resilient Engineering delves into the meaning and context of pursuing Comprehensive, Resilient, Infrastructural, and Systemic Planning (CRISP) solutions. Students learn to respond not only to technological and business challenges but also cultural, geographic, economic, gendered, and political contexts.

PSK 610Bridging & Negotiating Differences situates students in broader development literature, theories of change, cross-cultural wonder, power differentials, and inter-disciplinary work. Students move back-and-forth between very different realities, beginning with rural and urban, and then rich and poor, and ask of their own context and work, “Whose reality counts?”

PSK 611Action Research for Learning Enhancement introduces students to an iterative process of continual monitoring, evaluation, and participatory research for improved curricular design and delivery. Students learn to refine principles, strategies, and techniques for teaching and learning excellence. They identify indicators of change for self- and collective-evaluation.

PSK 612Social Movements, Social Change is a peacebuilding course that supports the work of local leaders who positively channel the energy of diverse groups (age, nationality, race, ethnicity, caste, gender, religion, and socio-economic status). Inter-group dialogue is used as a tool to engage alienated groups in safe conversations, to dismantle the perceptions of the “other,” and to create alliances for cooperation and peaceful coexistence.

PSK 613Natural Resources & Conflict examines how natural resources – oil, minerals, land, forest, and water – complicate conflicts and expose low-income countries and communities to risk and instability. Students design innovative interventions for cooperation and conflict prevention – for natural resources management, conflict analysis, local governance, and peacebuilding.

PSK 614Strategies for Conservation questions the limitations of traditional conservation approaches that establish protected areas and relocate people outside these boundaries. Here students review and analyze policies and trends affecting conservation in their communities. As practitioners, they design and promote alternatives that fit their specific settings.

PSK 615Food & Water Security examines the relationship of agricultural systems, food production and security, water security, inter-state riparian concerns, and demographic change. Beginning with a broad historical analysis, this course then addresses contemporary issues and their application to the students’ communities and countries.

PSK 616Entrepreneurship & Innovation is a pragmatic course that addresses the most frequently mentioned needs to grow a small enterprise – whether nonprofit or for-profit. Students learn plan design, market analysis and projections, securing seed money, branding, financial planning, and networking opportunities. They apply concepts to their own context.

PSK 617Leading Enterprise, Education & Movements investigates the holistic role of social entrepreneurs with business sensibilities and societal empathy in community development – whether nonprofit, for-profit, or public-private partnership. Students learn to strategize at the intersection of infrastructure, local economics, and public policy, and see themselves as catalysts of broader social change.

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Online Learning

assignments prompt students to reflect and build upon their own experiences, exchange ideas with peers, investigate how problems and opportunities have been addressed elsewhere, and how to adapt these lessons to the particular culture, economy, and ecology of their own communities.

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Community Field Labs

allow students to make a difference immediately, instead of having to wait until a degree is in hand. With faculty as mentors, students identify needs in their communities and work to develop activities that address those needs, while simultaneously meeting course learning objectives.

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Residential Experiences

are opportunities that bring students, professors, and local practitioners together every term and are a large part of what makes a Future Generations education so special. Residential experiences may be regional or international, and during this time students participate in site visits, networking events, seminars, or group projects.

Whether in Gandhi’s Ashram in India, the ruggedly beautiful mountains of Appalachia, or rural villages in Kenya, students are given the opportunity to examine community-based initiates that have scaled up to have regional-level impact.