Dear Center for Social Transformation and Leadership Community,
I am Colette M. Taylor, a transplant finding roots in Seattle. I am honored to serve as the Founding Director of the Center for Social Transformation and Leadership.
Colleges of education and professional education programs are increasingly embracing praxis, first praised by Aristotle as one of the primary ways or learning. Praxis—experiential education, a synergy of theory, reflection, and practical application—remains among the most effective ways to train capable leaders and professionals.
Most professional schools typically practice the fieldwork of praxis via internships, small-scale studies, or research projects. Students, even advanced students of leadership doing fieldwork, function primarily in research or observational roles. While there is value in bringing data back to the classroom for discussion and reflection, students of organizational leadership rarely have visibility to, let alone engagement in, deeper organizational dynamics around strategy, finance, revenue and growth, governance, or change management—that is, until they are stuck with these and other tectonic-level challenges on the job.
Many universities have leadership programs, but no one has programs quite like Seattle University. At Seattle University, our students are educated in the classical tradition of leadership for the public good. Beyond merely teaching students how to be successful in business or their professions, for us, leadership means more. The intensive leadership education we provide at Seattle University captures the Jesuit traditions of discernment and service to others to help our students identify what matters to them, make positive change in their communities and world, and serve as leaders for a just and humane world.
In pursuit of its mission to prepare skilled leaders able to spearhead systems-level change, the Center for Social Transformation and Leadership (CSTL) was founded to serve as a platform for a deep level of praxis for our students and alumni of leadership, one that puts them at the center of executives at organizations making urgent efforts to advance equity, social justice, and service to vulnerable and marginalized populations. Launched in June 2018, CSTL supports programs, services, and initiatives that work collaboratively with educational and social sector organizations to address complex community challenges through academic programs, professional development opportunities, research collaborations, and creative work. As a part of the College of Education at Seattle University and home to the Education and Organizational Learning and Leadership Doctoral Program, CSTL addresses the commitments of COE's mission and core values.
As its name implies, the proposed Center is ambitious. Indeed, if we are to successfully overcome the many challenges confronting us today, social transformation agendas must be audacious. In this spirit, the Center strives to serve as a gateway for students, faculty, alumni, and community partners to engage in high quality, holistic learning, leadership development, and transformational change.
Working alongside our community partners, educational organizations and change-efforts locally, nationally, and globally, CSTL aims to enhance leadership preparation, catalyze substantial scholarship & research, and foster healthy community transformation gains.
The Center for Social Transformation and Leadership’s goal is to create social impact by fostering peer and professional exchanges of ideas, collaborative work, and learning through shared experiences. We do this by developing and sustaining socially just-oriented community partnerships, organizing opportunities for students to learn alongside community members, and supporting faculty, alumni, and students to implement ethical and rigorous community-based research. Whether we are seeking to understand the past, challenging the present, or positioning for the future, we are always focused on solving the problems that matter most to society. In this particular moment, we are highly motivated to create greater opportunities for learners to understand pandemics and large-scale outbreaks, social justice, and equity, and the world's most pressing leadership challenges.
As we head into the summer 2022, we will look toward a very active development schedule with new offerings designed to prepare future leaders to address more of society's most critical challenges. We invite you to contact us if you are interested in participating in or supporting CSTL's work in community-based leadership, research, and education.
We wish you all well as we prepare for a exciting summer!
Colette M. Taylor
Chair, Leadership and Professional Studies
Program Director, Education& Organizational Learning &Leadership Doctorate Program
Founding Director of the Center for Social Transformation and Leadership