Addressing Complex Problems: Using Authentic Audiences and Challenges to Develop Adaptive Leadership and Socially Responsible Agency in Leadership Learners

Complex and adaptive challenges threaten human well-being and sustainability. However, our leadership graduates often lack the capacity and or commitment to address these challenges in a meaningful way. This paper details a five-year study exploring the impact of an interdisciplinary undergraduate course on the development of global capacities, complex Adaptive Leadership, Socially Responsible Agency, and systems thinking. The course instructors used innovative and intentionally divergent learning methods to challenge students to serve as stewards of their own knowledge and facilitators of their own learning through the confrontation of authentic and complex challenges. The researchers note transferable qualitative findings that demonstrate the profound impact of the noted leadership learning experience on the development of Socially Responsible Agency, along with Adaptive Leadership capacity and systems thinking.