One of the foundational principles of the Masters of Arts in Organization Development program is that of "learning by doing." This program provides professional preparation for developing organizations and communities that are more sane and effective.
In four semesters, participants gain the practical skills, conceptual knowledge, and field-tested experience to successfully lead organization and community improvement efforts.
With that focus, the curriculum includes hundreds of hours of internship time in which students work collaboratively with local businesses in the private, public and non-profit sectors, and thereby gain valuable work experience.
They offer their time for free, or sometimes at greatly reduced fees, in exchange for opportunities to hone their skills and learn through real-life experience. OD alumni, likewise, are continuing to learn in this hands-on manner and to work this way in the community as they build their resumes, professional networks, and skills.
Some examples of organizations with which graduates and students have recently worked are: Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County, Legal Aid of Sonoma County, SSU Faculty Retreat, Sonoma County Office of Education, City of Walnut Creek, City and County of San Francisco, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Earth Island Institute, Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, and Women's Initiative for Self Employment.
Collaborative community projects are varied and numerous. For example:
A team of graduates did a project with the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission over the summer of 2011, in which they put together a forum of more than 60 area human rights organizations to discuss ways to collaborate with one another.
A team of alumni worked with local broadcasting station KRCB as they develop their community based programming and partnerships.
One of the alumni is designing and leading a multi-year, multiple stakeholder, community-wide partnership for identifying gaps and priorities in youth-serving organizations in Petaluma, and doing community capacity building in the Petaluma City School System.
OD faculty and alumni were principally involved in the Windsor Future Search collaboration with that community, which focused on creating a better future for the youth of Windsor.
More recently the OD program hosted its own Future Search conference, inviting members of the SSU community and Sonoma County area stakeholders to consider the future of this MA program, and ways to maintain its vital connections with the community.
Alumni hold leadership positions in community and collaboration-oriented organizations such as Catholic Charities, The Arc of California, Ag Innovations Network, Becoming Independent, Summer Search North Bay, and the Santa Rosa Police Department, among many others.
Director of the program is Debora Hammond. More information can be found at http://www.sonoma.edu/exed/orgdev/.