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Servant-leader Concentration

The Servant-leader Concentration provides unparalleled learning opportunities for students to affirm, develop, and express their natural inclinations to serve-first. The four-course Concentration is designed to provide students with an advanced comprehensive understanding of the philosophy of servant-leadership and to further develop the most pertinent dispositions, capacities and skills within the philosophy; such as, forgiveness and restorative justice; listening and discerning; building community; foresight and strategy; systems thinking, and other closely related capacities.

The Concentration, grounded in the writings of Robert Greenleaf and subsequent research, offers the most advanced graduate study of Servant Leadership available at a University anywhere.

Contact Student Services if you would like to add the Servant-leader Concentration to your progression plan at or 866-380-5323.

View More: Servant-leader model of Gonzaga’s program appeals to military because its models of leadership are always changing. If you look at elite teams, Seal teams, para-rescue, rangers, and so on, it’s really about continuity of operation. It’s about who can do what and fitting each of the pieces together so the team can be most successful on whatever the mission may be. Achieving this requires teams to model Servant-leadership.

Randy Krause, Fire Chief, Port of Seattle

Concentration Curriculum (12 credits)

Just as each online course in the ORGL program is developed in accord with the Ignatian pedagogy of learning; the Servant-leader Concentration also incorporates the Ignatian pedagogical structure.  The Concentration is designed as a sequential learning process that becomes progressively more focused on developing the capacities of a servant-leader disposition through the understanding and practice of serving-first.

The Servant-leader Concentration consists of two (2) required courses and two (2) elective courses.

  • 1st required course
    • ORGL 530 Servant Leadership
  • 2nd & 3rd courses (choose 2 from the following electives)
    • ORGL 510: Renaissance Leadership for the 21st Century – 14-day study abroad in Italy
    • ORGL 522: Leadership & Community Empowerment Collaboration & Dialogue – 5-day immersion at St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, CA
    • ORGL 532: Leadership Justice & Forgiveness
    • ORGL 535: Listen Discern Decide
    • ORGL 689: Leadership & Hardiness – 3-day immersion at Mt. Adams, WA
  • 4th required course
    • ORGL 537 Foresight & Strategy – 4-day immersion on-campus in Spokane, WA

Course Descriptions

Required Courses:

ORGL 530 Servant Leadership (3 credits)
The foundations of Servant-leadership are explored with an emphasis on reviewing the original writings, and on conceptualizing and articulating the philosophy through a clarification of what it is, and why Servant-leadership is relevant. Human development theories are used as theoretical frameworks for identifying criteria to assess servant-leaders and servant-organizations, and for understanding how they develop and function. Dialogue is encouraged as a way of integrating aspects of the philosophy with applied experience and gain insights into the students own leadership approach.

ORGL 537: Foresight & Strategy (3 credits) (4-day residency in Spokane, WA)
In this course students will integrate more of the servant-leader characteristics, and further develop the disposition of a servant-leader. The course explores the art, science and methods leaders use to acknowledge, stimulate, and further develop their capacity of foresight. Students engage macro-system perspectives applying strategy and stewardship as they consider introducing vision into the reality of complex organizational and community systems.


ORGL 510 Renaissance Leadership for the 21st Century (3 credits)
14-day study abroad immersion in Italy

This course will help emerging leaders develop new perspectives and strategies and bring healthy creativity and energy to their organizations. Drawing upon the creative processes of artists, painters, architects, musicians, and writers, students will apply the same dynamics of creative thinking to the practical work of leaders. An interdisciplinary approach explores the power of Renaissance thinking as it applies to renewal, rediscovery, invention, and creativity.

ORGL 522 Leadership & Community (3 credits)
5-day residency at St. Andrews Abbey in Valyermo, CA

This course is an appreciation for and an understanding of the leadership processes of empowerment, collaboration, and dialogue in the context of creating and transforming community. Emphasis is given to understanding individual and group development, structures of collaboration and dialogue, and leadership which is oriented toward process rather than product.

How does the leader develop community to facilitate individual growth and collective flourishing? Through experience and scholarship students explore and practice empowerment, collaboration, and dialogue in the context of creating structures and processes for sustaining and transforming community. At the Benedictine Abbey students become participant observers in an emersion designed to explore, practice, and come to an expanded understanding of the role and purpose of the leader’s involvement and commitment to building and sustaining meaningful and purposeful community. Experiential findings are then integrated with the literature on building community building and used to formulate a proposal for enhancing community flourishing.

ORGL 532: Leadership Justice & Forgiveness (3 credits)
In this course students will begin the process of understanding leadership, justice, and forgiveness in the context of purposeful systems change. Servant leadership and restorative vs. retributive justice are important aspects of the learning community. The course engages students toward self-responsibility in the context of reconciliation, and the depth of heart, mind, and spirit that leads to healing and growth in community with others. Students will work to apply the interior leadership necessary for discernment and action within oppressive systems.

Students will engage the following questions:

  • What are the basic understandings of servant-leadership, restorative justice and forgiveness?
  • How can a person choose servant-leadership, restorative justice and forgiveness in the face of grave human atrocities and the furthest reaches of human suffering?
  • Who does one forgive, and how does one approach forgiveness?
  • What does it mean to be a person of restorative justice and forgiveness?

ORGL 535: Listen Discern Decide (3 credits)
In this class students will learn more in-depth concepts of Servant-leadership by learning approaches and practices of listening and discernment as a way of enhancing decision-making capacity. The course begins with a focus on interior and exterior listening. Listening and awareness techniques are then integrated with the principles and practices of discernment. The course progresses from a focus on the individual, to group, to listening and discerning and decision making in organizations and communities.

ORGL 689: Leadership & Hardiness (3 credits)
3-day immersion at Mt. Adams, WA

This course will introduce students to existential psychology and psychological hardiness in the context of organizational leadership. Students will gain an understanding of existentialism through a personal exploration of meaning and how meaning informs psychological attitudes and existential courage during personal and organizational adversity. Partnering with an organization, students will engage various sources of feedback related to culture, climate, structure, and workforce and provide the organization a tangible plan for developing and/or sustaining a resilient organization. Students will learn to deconstruct and operationalize psychological hardiness through scholarly literature, classroom exercises, simulations, and a climb at Mt. Adams, WA.

First-of-its-Kind Servant-leader Concentration

Gonzaga’s Master of Organizational Leadership core curriculum currently introduces Servant-leadership as a course, and has now expanded into a first-of-its-kind Servant-leader Concentration. The Concentration, grounded in the writings of Robert Greenleaf and subsequent research, offers the most advanced graduate study of Servant Leadership available at a University anywhere.

  1. The Concentration is also the first to offer a unique array of courses with a specific leadership development focus, designed to develop the characteristics and dispositions Greenleaf indicated are essential for servant-leader development and the influence of Servant-lead organizations.
  2. Students who complete the Concentration will have the highest academically recognized credential (recognition with their degree) and will be academically recognized as expert practitioners, trainers, coaches and mentors in Servant-leadership.
  3. An additional highlight is that all of the courses within the Concentration are to be cross listed with the Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies (DPLS). Now, doctoral students desiring to focus their research on Servant-leadership will have access to wider spectrum of courses providing a richer broader base for more advance research in the topic area.

What are the benefits and value of the Concentration?

The concentration is made up of four distinctive and relevant courses designed to enhance the student’s servant-disposition, capacities and skills for servant-leading, and the development of servant-organizations and communities. The concentration provides students the opportunity to:

  • Gain an advanced understanding of the philosophy of Servant-leadership at the individual, organizational and macro-community systems level
  • Foster the development of serving-first dispositions, capacities and skills
  • Advance career advancement opportunities as the need for leaders trained in Servant-leading increases
  • Achieve greater marketability as Servant-leader teachers and practitioners
  • Receive recognition (a credential) for Servant-leadership Studies from a renowned university—Gonzaga University is THE institution for training world leaders in Servant-leadership.
  • Develop a systems perspective of Servant-leadership through the integration of three kinds of knowledge;
    • Informational and factual knowledge and skills relevant to servant-leading for individuals, organizations,  and the macro-community
    • Procedural knowledge and processes relevant for interacting with individuals and within organizations and macro-community systems
    • Strategic knowledge required for self-transformation, institutional transformational processes, and macro-systems transformation.
    • Comprehensive outcomes for the servant-leader in training
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