U of S students learn to lead in unique new course

A new experiential learning course is connecting University of Saskatchewan students with organizations in the community while they build their skills in governance and leadership.

The Governance and Leadership Development Practicum is a new offering from the Edwards School of Business that pairs students with mentors from local non-profit and community-based organizations for a full academic year. During the course, the students serve as contributing, but non-voting, members on that organization's board of directors. The course's classroom component features interactive seminars led by Edwards faculty on topics such as governance fundamentals, strategy, budgets and finances, and risk mitigation—crucial skills for contributing to a board and understanding how organizations are run.

"It's amazing to watch our students rolling up their sleeves and becoming engaged with their organization," said Chelsea Willness, the Edwards faculty member who created, and now teaches, the course. "They are exposed to the complexity of real organizations, groups and individuals in a way that challenges them personally and professionally, but in a context that provides ongoing guidance and mentorship."

In addition to the internship opportunity, the course also offers university credit—making it the first undergraduate course of its kind in Canada.

Changing demographics in Canada, in combination with other challenges, mean that non-profit and community organizations often struggle with board and leadership succession, said Willness. Meanwhile, students who aspire to serve on boards need to be prepared to fill this leadership gap. The course allows students to apply the knowledge gained from the seminars in real situations, as well as build on their skills in organizational governance, collaboration, decision-making and leadership.

"Our students are bright and ambitious, and are passionate about serving the community. I applaud Chelsea for directing the class and providing them with unique opportunities to practice responsible leadership," said Daphne Taras, dean of the Edwards School of Business. "These students will be board-ready decades ahead of others, and will make such a difference for their partner organizations. This is a remarkable initiative."


For more information:

Jennifer Thoma

Media Relations

University of Saskatchewan


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