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New education degree will prepare students to solve problems in any field

The new Human Organizational Leadership and Development major in the UNC School of Education will provide a curricular pathway for students interested in creating solutions and affecting organizational change.

The exertior of the School of Education.
School of Education at Peabody Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Mission-minded Tar Heels will have a new major to choose from in fall 2021.

A new, versatile program in the UNC School of Education will provide a curricular pathway for students interested in creating solutions and affecting organizational change, whether they choose to work in a school, nonprofit, health care system or Fortune 500 company.

Professor Thad Domina will help lead the Bachelor of Arts degree program for undergraduate students in Human Organizational Leadership and Development. He says this multidisciplinary major is meant for the kind of student he often finds at Carolina – those who are idealistic and pragmatic and are motivated to take what they learn in their college classrooms and put that into practice for the good of the people and places around them.

“The University is so grounded in the state of North Carolina. As a result, our students are often dedicated to serving their communities. When we were designing the HOLD major, we thought about all of the students who take courses in our minor in education classes and are involved in leadership via the Carolina Union, the Campus Y or other organizations.” he says. “We thought UNC needed a full major dedicated to helping these students learn how to develop human and community capacity.”

The program will not only focus on teaching leadership skills but also consider what it means to be a leader broadly. To lead, Domina says, is to cultivate your own agency and then find ways to use that agency to create agency for others.

“You can lead from a position of power – like the president of an organization. But you also can lead from the bottom of an organization. The key is learning to look for the levers that can drive change wherever you are. We hope the HOLD major will help students understand their potential as leaders and cultivate a set of conceptual tools that students can use to make a real difference in organizations.”

Classes will focus on organizational and community development, the study of organizational structure, and investigations of social movements and other efforts to change organizations from the ground up. Other courses include leadership classes to explore strengths and passions and how to leverage them, “toolbox” classes like leadership in nonprofit and educational settings, and classes that focus on research methods to inform organizational practices and influence change.

Domina says a program that allowed him to focus on a growing mission, rather than a concrete career path, would have been a helpful guide when he was an undergraduate.

“Our students really want to change the world, and that involves both broadening your mind and seeing yourself in a career. In this major, you can put the two pieces together.”

As with any School of Education major, experiential learning is a central part of the curriculum, says the School of Education’s Director of Recruitment Patricia Harris, including strategic support for students and connections to real-world experiences.

“Education translates across different fields from educational training to human resources to business. The HOLD major fits perfectly into a variety of fields and roles, and it offers a little bit more flexibility and marketability to our students as they build their professional portfolios,” she says.

HOLD will broaden the visibility and value of the field of education to more students who might not have traditionally included the School of Education in their plans at Carolina, and Harris says she can’t wait to see what HOLD students will do.

“We’re excited about this new major and excited about what our graduates will go on to do and what they’ll discover and explore along the way,” she said.

Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, dean of the School of Education, shares Harris’ excitement.

“In Carolina’s School of Education, we pursue innovative, research-based solutions to the most pressing problems that face leaders of organizations focused on learning and improving outcomes for all,” he said. “We are very excited about extending these strengths as we launch HOLD and welcome the first of many cohorts of Carolina students who are intent on making a difference and bringing positive changes to people and organizations.”

The application to the major is open now and closes April 13.
Apply on the School of Education’s website.