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New bachelor’s degree program approved for School of Education

The new Human Organizational Leadership and Development program combines and builds upon courses in education, social science, policy, analytics and leadership education.

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)

The School of Education has received approval to launch a new bachelor of arts degree program for undergraduate students in Human Organizational Leadership and Development.

The UNC System’s Board of Governors approved the new program on May 20.

“We’re excited to receive the go-ahead to start this new program,” said Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, dean of the School of Education. “HOLD will be a most welcome and substantial addition to other undergraduate programs in our School, such as Human Development and Family Studies, and provide an academic pathway for Carolina students interested in pursuing leadership positions in learning-focused organizations. HOLD will be among only a handful of similar cutting-edge programs around the nation. If all goes to plan, we hope to launch HOLD in spring 2021.”

Multidisciplinary program

HOLD is designed to offer a program of study that combines and builds upon courses in education, social science, policy, analytics and leadership education, said faculty member Thurston “Thad” Domina, who led the effort within the School of Education to develop the program.

“HOLD will offer a unique opportunity for students, as it is unlike any other program in the UNC System,” Domina said. “HOLD will have disciplinary foundations in sociology, political science, and organizational studies. It will also have a strong experiential learning component, providing students with structured internship and community work opportunities that will prepare them for leadership within a range of organizations.”

The HOLD course of study includes several cross-listed electives at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, School of Education and the College of Arts & Sciences’ departments of communication, public policy and sociology. HOLD also will build upon a track of courses that the School of Education and at the Carolina Union that will offer leadership training to students involved in campus government and other student leadership activities.

Internships as part of a capstone project are another key component of the new program.

“Integrating the internship experience into the academic program gives students the chance to apply their classroom learning on the ground as they launch their careers,” Domina said. “The internship experiences will be carefully structured to help students connect and build upon their classroom learning.”

Preparing change leaders

The program is designed to build upon Carolina students’ commonly expressed interests in leadership development and enacting positive change, Domina said.

“Carolina students just blow me away with their innovative and creative ways they hope to make a difference in the world,” he said. “And so, I hope that what the major can do is provide a place to bring students who are leaders across the campus together and can structure the learning that you always do when you’re doing that kind of work, but can provide a place to share and to scaffold that learning so that they have a sense of what the skills are to carry forward.”

Domina said that through the internship component of the program, the School will build a community among alumni and organizations across North Carolina that will support students’ learning, while also providing them career-development networking opportunities.

Jeff Greene, who as associate dean for academic affairs helped shape development of the program, said that a key indicator of the program’s success will be the work of its graduates after they’ve launched into their careers.

“The world requires innovation, creativity and advancement,” Greene said. “Individual persons can do that. But people who can come together in organizations and really drive those organizations for creativity and innovation are the ones who are going to be making a big difference.

“Graduates from the HOLD program will be expertly positioned to create environments where people can realize all the capabilities together to enact change.”