Applied Community & Industry Projects

Embedded in the curricula are applied community and industry projects, a distinguishing attribute of this program and a key feature of the Jefferson Nexus Learning approach.

Strategic leadership students discover, initiate and participate in these applied consulting, research and executive education projects as part of the curriculum and program’s requirements. These applied projects enable students to apply new thinking frameworks, methodologies and tools to address complex challenges in the workplace, while also allowing them to impact their community and industry while in the process of pursuing their doctoral degree.

The program’s ongoing project list is constantly evolving to reflect the goals and interests of our professional executive students and current industry and community challenges. Below are highlighted projects:

This ongoing research project was established in 2007 in response to the question: Why after 40 years of enormous energy and resources is the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) survival rate low, very low— is it too low? Are we doing the ‘right’ things?

The group’s extensive research argues that SCA survival is a complex organizational problem and should be addressed using systems and design thinking methodologies. The group continues to apply a new mindset drawn from management and organization science, as opposed to only traditional medical research.

The Jefferson College of Architecture and the Built Environment, a College with a 97% job and graduate school placement rate, proposed the following challenge project: Having architectural and design talent and a qualifying degree, such as the B.Arch and/or M.Arch, may not ensure that a graduate has the broader organizational skill set needed to manage or lead in a professional design firm. Through our curriculum, how can we ensure we prepare our students for these challenges?

This project began by identifying the competencies and characteristics within the architecture industry that people should possess. These critical leadership and complex project management competencies are largely absent from current educational programs which specialize in producing architects and designers, and need to be integrated into the College’s curriculum to produce graduates ready to lead.

Using participant interview methods from established professionals in the industry with an interactive design-based method of collecting properties from the College’s community, leadership themes that impact emergent behavior for graduates were identified. The process of integrating these characteristics into formal academic curricula and informal student social learning experiences is currently being developed. This preparation will prepare program graduates for the current and increasing leadership and management responsibilities in the professional environment of architecture and design.

Alpha Sigma Lambda is the oldest and largest U. S. national honor society for non-traditional students (typically adults engaged in professional careers) who achieve and maintain outstanding scholastic standards and leadership characteristics while adroitly handling additional responsibilities of work and family. Their Board of Directors came to the DSL program for assistance with these challenges.

The approach to the planning process uses systems thinking as a mindset, and design thinking as a problem-solving and strategic-planning approach to develop the winning strategies. This process generates agreements among stakeholders, explicit formation of organizational objectives, promotion of creativity, and a reality-based strategic plan.

To compete in the knowledge economy, today's executive must be able to thrive in an interconnected and multi-faceted business environment where innovation and paradigm shifts are happening exponentially faster, transforming entire systems. These changes are ubiquitous, cutting across companies, industries and whole societies. With these challenges in mind, the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executive Group (GPSEG) created the Executive Leadership Institute to help GPSEG and its over 1,400 members, design and develop the Institute’s capacity and curricular content. DSL students and faculty used design thinking methodologies to enable GPSEG stakeholders to identify key skills, abilities and competencies needed by those in the C-suite in a 21st century dynamic economy. These characteristics inform the curriculum for new educational experiences and workshops that can be delivered by the Institute to their membership

Learn more about the ongoing work here Executive Leadership Institute.