Leadership Minor

Major in anything. Minor in Leadership.

The University of Minnesota Undergraduate Leadership Minor is among the oldest and largest Undergraduate Leadership Programs in the nation. As a department, we draw interest from local, national, and international organizations regarding our unique Intentional Emergence teaching style. We have compiled this site as a way for you as a student, educator, or guest to gain useful information on our program. We look forward to meeting you!

Minor Overview

The Leadership Minor program is interdisciplinary, multidimensional, experiential, and global. Students explore and experience multiple frameworks of leadership. The program prepares them for real-life leadership experiences, both on campus and in the larger global community by combining social change theories of leadership with the practice of adaptive leadership.

Academic Opportunities Non-Academic Opportunities
4 Core Courses CoffeeTalk Series
Directed Research Leadership Minor Blog
Directed Study Leadership Minor Intern Program
Study Abroad: Indonesia Mentorship Program
New York, San Francisco, and Minneapolis Internships Alumni Engagement



3000 Level Class Developed

Staff in Student Affairs developed a conceptual framework for the Minor, which was endorsed by the Vice President of Student Affairs and the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. Faculty from the College of Education and Human Development were identified to work with staff from Student Affairs to develop a formal proposal for the Undergraduate Leadership Minor. The work group expanded to include a representative from the Reflective Leadership Center at the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs and the curriculum for the 3000 level leadership course, “Leadership, You and Your Community” was developed.


Seminar Offered

In the spring of 1997, a non‐credit Leadership Minor seminar was offered to explore the concept of leadership courses for credit and to solicit input regarding the content of the curriculum.


Minor Approved!

The Leadership Minor proposal received final approval from the Board of Regents in December of 1999. All core courses were offered in the spring of 2000, with 41 students enrolled.


Curriculum Reconstruction

One of the challenges the program faced, as a minor that focuses on leadership development (as opposed to leadership studies), was how to most effectively teach transformative and adaptive leadership to undergraduates.  In 2007, we began working closely with Dr. Sharon Daloz Parks (author of Leadership Can be Taught, 2005) on integrating Adaptive Leadership and Case-in-Point teaching into our courses.  Through this process, we spent a great deal of time working with and learning from others in the field who are committed to similar approaches.  We conducted site visits with Duke University, Harvard, and the University of San Diego.


Symposium Offered

Sharon Daloz Parks asked us to create a symposium (originally the Leadership Can be Taught Symposium) to bring together people interested in using adaptive leadership with undergraduates.  We hosted the symposium for two years and then created a more specific training programs based on the feedback of the participants and the growing demand to learn our model.  We now have two programs for those interested in learning about our pedagogy:

  • semester cohort trainings or
  • the Engaging Young Leaders bi-annual training.


Outside Program Training Offered

Beginning in June of 2016, we began to offer a biannual training for educators around the world. The program is based off of the upcoming book Practices for Engaging Young Leaders. This training comes not only from the lived experience of authors, Linnette Werner and David Hellstrom, who collectively have over 30 years of teaching experience, but also from leadership educators across the globe who have attended their previous conferences and trainings.


1800+ Enrollments

During the 2016-2017 school year, we had over 1,800 student enrollments in our four core courses, and we offered a total of 77 sections including 62 in-person sections, 5 blended sections, and 10 online sections.


Growth & Expansion

In 2017, the leadership minor moved its academic partnerships from specific colleges to the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE) in order to open up partnership possibilities with more departments across the Twin Cities campus. This move reflected the centrality of leadership development and education as a university wide mission and a desire to ensure that leadership was not viewed as the province of a single school or college. In addition, it continued to honor the undeniable role that Student Affairs has had in the development and advancement of the Leadership Minor since its inception. The move also allowed the Minor to use a single course designator (LEAD) instead of cross-listing courses, regardless of the colleges partnering in the program at the time, making it more intuitive for students to register for all Leadership Minor courses. A new Faculty Steering Committee was recruited to assume responsibility for the academic direction of the program and open up input from more colleges.

Strategic Partnership

The Undergraduate Leadership Minor’s strategic partnership within the University of Minnesota is core to its identity and mission. The conceptual idea to create the minor originated from an OSA assessment of student needs and interests related to leadership development. Housed within the Office of Student Affairs with academic partner the Office of Undergraduate Education, the Undergraduate Leadership Minor is uniquely structured within the University allowing for its activities to be a unique blend of both academic rigor and student support.

Leadership Undergraduate Minor Graphic

The Partnership Structure Drives the Leadership Minor’s Work:

  • The program activities are a unique blend of academic rigor and student support
  • Able to leverage resources and expertise from academic and non-academic units
  • The program appeals to a diverse group of students and creates a multidisciplinary learning environment where students gain an understanding of leadership across disciplines and contexts
  • Our multidisciplinary structure guides our collaborative culture and behavior, allowing for the program to collaborate with many units (i.e CIE; OFYP) across the University as well as serve as a test site for various pilot projects.
  • The program curriculum translates theory to practice; Student Development Theory and Cognitive Development Theory aligns well with Personal Leadership Development Theory

Office of Undergraduate Education

OUE is our collegiate partner, connecting the Minor to its academic foundations and officially offers the Leadership Minor degree. The University Student Learning Outcomes has informed much of our curriculum development.

Office for Student Affairs

OSA has been a partner for the Leadership Minor since its founding in 1999 and highlights the importance of student development in our work. OSA is the home of our human resource and finance functions. The University Student Development Outcomes has been a foundation upon which we have built our pedagogy.

Faculty Steering Committee

The Faculty Steering Committee, headed by a Faculty Committee Chair, are our partners in curriculum and instruction in the program. The faculty steering committee and program course leads work together to develop curriculum, hire adjunct instructors, and appoint faculty instructors.