Friends hopes curriculum will equip students to change world

05/27/2014 9:28 AM

05/27/2014 9:28 AM

Friends University has developed a new curriculum for people who want to transform the world.

It is not for people who want to make loads of money; it is for people who want to instigate change.

For the first time, Friends is offering a degree in organizational leadership and transformational change, which is designed for people who want to be involved in nonprofit and government organizations.

“I feel this program provides students the opportunity to follow their heart and dream without getting mired down into how much I am going to have to make,” said Natalie Savage, Friends University College of Adult and Professional Studies program director, instructor and agent of change.

Jo Lobertini, dean of the College of Adult and Professional Studies, calls the program revolutionary.

“We finally have a program for people who literally want to change the world,” she said. “Everyone needs a job. Everyone wants a job. But many, many people want to make the world a better place. They know they have to make a living doing this.

“But now, at Friends, they can have the opportunity to do both.”

So far, 30 students are enrolled in the program. Ages of the students range from people in their early 20s through their 50s.

Students come from around the globe, learning leadership theory, change management and organizational development.

According to Lobertini, many of the students in the program had found themselves wanting to be leaders but not wanting to go into either human resources or business.

“We wanted to make sure this program strongly aligned with a large service component,” Savage said. “Most of our students spent time critically examining what they wanted to do. They were not wanting to go straight into business or the corporate world.

“I found myself dealing with students who had other aspirations that were more service oriented.”

Some students in the Friends program find themselves wanting to return to their home communities to bring change.

In Zimbabwe, Fortunate Bvunzawabaya said she went online to look for a college she could attend. She liked the schools in Kansas, but especially Friends because it was a Christian school, she said.

“In Zimbabwe, we have girl-child marriages,” she said. “Men marry little girls thinking they will be cured of AIDS.”

Bvunzawabaya is hoping to stop that.

“I am taking this program there and helping these kids,” she said. “I am excited I can take this back with me and teach other people how to help in the community.

“In this program, we learn how to be able to help.”

Savage said that’s exactly why this program was created.

“I have been moved by the depth of experiences my students have had,” Savage said. “Some are talking about making changes at a basic necessity level. … This helps students deal with how to navigate change, how to influence those around me to be positive.”

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