Master of Arts Program for the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
The Program in Social-Organizational Psychology has developed a lasting relationship with the United States Army, in particular the Military Academy at West Point. The fruits of this relationship include three robust programs: Eisenhower Leader Development Program (ELDP), Benavidez Leader Development Program (BLDP), and the Army Fellows Program.
Whether it is the three-week intensive BLDP program, or the research driven Army Fellows program, students are immersed into an academically rich environment where experience and practice meets theory. Many of the students are seasoned members of the U.S. Army, Coast Guard, or Special Forces, with over 7 years of military experience.
Named after the 53rd President of the United States and 13th President of Columbia University, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Leader Development Program (ELDP) offers a slightly modified M.A. for U.S. Army officers. Students are predominantly at the rank of Captain, at the United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, New York. This M.A. Program is conducted in collaboration with the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership (BS&L) at the USMA. Faculty is predominantly from the Teachers College program with some from the USMA.
ELDP cohorts of approximately 24 officers complete a program of 45 credits, including a comprehensive examination at the end, in one year. In other words, their full time duty is to be a graduate student. Upon graduation, at least half of the officers will be assigned for two or three years as a Tactical Officer (TAC) in the U.S. Corps of Cadets at the USMA, West Point (those not assigned to be a TAC will return to other responsibilities or deployments within the Army). Those who are assigned as a TAC will be acting as the legal Company Commander of a Cadet Company, comprised of about 100 individuals (undergraduate cadets), and will be the primary developer of these cadets at the USMA, West Point.
The TAC officer assists each cadet in balancing and integrating the requirements of the physical, military, academic, and moral-ethical programs at the USMA. The TAC officer trains and coaches the cadet chain of command to establish and sustain high unit standards and behavior essential to a cohesive company environment. TAC officers inspire cadets to develop effective leadership styles through role-modeling, coaching, teaching, and training. TAC officers also present formal and informal instruction to the company, implement special development programs for individual cadets as needed, and they are responsible for all company administration.
The majority of the courses during the year are taken with other M.A. students at Teachers College, with Teachers College faculty, while a few are cohort-specific and are taught by Teachers College and USMA Faculty at the West Point Campus. Having this relationship with the USMA through the Eisenhower Leader Development Program strengthens the Social-Organizational Psychology Program at Teachers College through the increased diversity, perspective, and leadership experience that the ELDP students bring to the program.
The following are short summary descriptions of the courses that will be included in the program of study leading to an MA in Social-Organizational Psychology for the cohort of military officers in the Eisenhower Leader Development Program (ELDP). The first four courses will be taught at USMA and all others will be taken at Teachers College, Columbia University and will be taught by the faculty of Teachers College.
1. Organizational Culture and Socialization (LD 700) - LD700 is a graduate seminar in organization socialization and culture with an emphasis on the sociology of cadets. This course is specifically designed as a hands-on, experiential opportunity for students in a professional role applying knowledge in a professional school setting. The first part of the course examines the process by which the culture is transmitted to newcomers in an organization—the micro level of analysis. Students will understand the process of (re)socialization from both a theoretical and applied perspective. As the foundation literature piece for our analysis of socialization, we study the classic work by Erving Goffman, Asylums. In part two, the concept and theory of Organizational Culture are presented. This is a theoretical perspective of organizations that explains functions and conflict in the organizational culture especially contexts that are created and reinforced by leaders in the organization—the mezzo level of analysis. Students will be surprised to learn how powerfully culture affects organizations. The primary source guiding our thinking at the mezzo level of analysis is Joanne Martin’s Organizational Culture: Mapping the Terrain.
2. West Point, the Army, and the American Military Experience (LD 720) - The course examines the history of West Point and the U.S. Army in the context of the American military experience. LD720 focuses on the history of West Point as an institution in the 20th Century primarily through text; however, the course meets in a different venue on campus for each lesson. West Point’s architecture, art, chapels, cemetery, museum, memorials, and geography serve as vehicles to understand the institution outside of the classroom. For students seeking a graduate degree in organizational psychology, this course provides the historical context for one organization.
3. Cross-Cultural Leadership (LD 730) - Course explores the effects of culture on leadership at the organization through global region level. Cultural differences across nations are explored using nine comparable cultural dimensions while simultaneously examining how these same cultures differ internally based on race, gender, religion, and other factors. Through an understanding of cross-cultural differences, leaders enhance their abilities to understand, predict and influence behaviors across different cultural contexts. Students complete three cross-cultural experiences and analyze these cultures using the GLOBE study cultural dimensions and culturally based implicit leadership theories. Course Objective is: LD730 graduates can effectively assess culture, understand its influence on individuals, organizations, and societies and are effective leaders across diverse cultural contexts.
4. Leader Development (LD 740) - The course focuses on the broad domain of leader development. In short, it concentrates on how leaders in organizations can develop others to realize their potential. Growing other people's talents helps leaders to accomplish the mission and improve their organizations. LD740 builds upon ORLJ 5005 (which examined leadership and leadership theory from a variety of perspectives). The course seeks to integrate much of the theoretical work associated with constructs related to organizations, leadership, and adult development in order to provide a more complete understanding of how leaders are nurtured (and influenced).
5. Group Dynamics: A Systems Perspective (ORL 5362) – This course provides students with an opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of group dynamics from a systemic perspective and to learn about their own behavior in groups. This course aims to enable students to perceive, understand, and interpret dynamics in groups and systems using a group relations framework. The course covers: theories of group development; group boundaries, tasks, and roles; power and authority in groups and systems; dynamics of small and large groups; dynamics between and among groups in a larger system or organization; and the interplay of socio-political identities and group dynamics. (3 credits)
6. Organizational Psychology (ORLJ 4005) – This course is an introduction to theories and research that underlie the field of organizational psychology and is intended to help students understand the behavior of people in today’s complex organizations. Implications for and applications of topics such as motivation, leadership, group dynamics, organizational culture, decision-making, job design and workforce diversity in various organizational contexts are considered. (3 credits)
7. Understanding Behavioral Research (ORLJ 4009) – This course is designed to help individuals become informed consumers of data and information. An overview of the various methods of behavioral research and the relative strengths and limitations of each is addressed. The ability to read and evaluate social science research is developed and the skill of conducting research is initiated. (3 credits)
8. Executive Coaching (ORLJ 4010) – Executive Coaching combines two previously taught courses into one, intentionally to integrate theory and practice. As such, this course is intended to provide students with an overview of theory, research, and practice related to executive coaching within organizational settings as executive coaching is viewed as a subset of organizational consultation. Assuming some basic knowledge of organizational behavior and theory and limited experience with coaching, the course is designed to give students an opportunity to gain foundational knowledge of the coaching process, including how to create a coaching relationship, engage in coaching conversations, and build commitment for action planning. Throughout the semester the focus will be on increasing self-awareness and other awareness, and linking one’s experience to theory and research in service of developing effective individual coaching skills. As a result of coaching and being coached, reading and lectures, and through ongoing reflective exercises, each student will develop his|her own coaching model as well as a process of ongoing monitoring and revision of the model. (3 credits)
9. Leadership & Supervision (ORLJ 5005) – This course focuses on major psychological and other interdisciplinary approaches to the study of leadership and provides a critical analysis of relevant theories and research and an understanding of practical applications within organizations. (3 credits)
10. Organizational Dynamics (ORLJ 5045) – This course studies organizations as total systems with consideration of different types of organizations. Emphasis on the impact of such dimensions as mission, strategy, structure, culture, systems, and leadership on individual and organizational performance and vice versa, is considered. Organizational change is also addressed. (3 credits)
11. Preparation for Coaching (ORLJ 5310) – In this practicum course, students are supervised in the application of their coaching model, developed in ORLJ 4010, to a cadet at the United States Military Academy, in preparation of assignment as a Tactical Officer and as leaders assigned to coach and develop individuals under their command. (1 credit)
12. Basic Practicum in Conflict Resolution (ORLJ 5340) – This course may be taken in the Spring, but only if one’s elective has been taken in the Fall. One may take this course AND one’s elective, both, in the Fall, but only ONE in the Spring. This course provides basic skills in collaborative negotiation and mediation and the opportunity for supervised practice of these skills. (3 credits)
13. Practicum in Change and Consultation (ORLJ 6343) [capstone course] – This course is intended to provide students with an introduction to the practice of consultation and planned organizational change through the application of behavioral science concepts and tools. Assuming some basic knowledge of organizational behavior and theory, the course will address issues of how to gather information about organizations in order to diagnose and facilitate change, to increase effectiveness, and to foster the capacity for learning and development over time. The focus will be on understanding organizations through the development and use of diagnostic models and self-as-instrument in conjunction with specific change technologies during all phases of consulting to organizations.
The course is heavily weighted toward practice and provides students with opportunities to: give class presentations; give and receive feedback to and from peers – individually and collectively; learn what factor enhance and impede team development and effectiveness; consult to a team as well as be a client team; and form a consulting firm in which the task is to provide consultation to a “real” client organization.
The course is divided into two components: class session (Monday) and weekly team meetings (Wednesdays). Learning opportunities are intentionally designed to be sequential with team assignments building on learning form class and vice versa.
Class sessions vary weekly according to the topic and task and include a variety of learning experiences such as brief lectures, discussion of cases, structured team-work, and simulated as well as actual consultation with an organization. (5 credits)
14. Adult Development and Learning (ORLD 4051) – This course provides a sophisticated introduction to basic and significant theories of adult learning. Areas covered include: transitions and evolutions; learning and achieving styles; exploration of how people think, reason, and make meaning of the complexities around them; and transformation theory. Each of these areas focuses on its application to an understanding of how adults learn. (3 credits)