A Transformational Leadership program directed by Bill Goettler, Associate Dean for Assessment & Ministerial Studies, is offered for Yale Divinity School students to enhance the course offerings that teach leadership practices. Six weekend long events are designed, inviting known leaders from both congregational and broader society settings. Each speaker is theologically informed, but most of them are not parish clergy. A student receives a third of a course credit, as the intensive weekend of learning is not meant to replace but to supplement courses in the curriculum.
A significant amount of reading is assigned before each intensive two-day course. It is intended to be case study based learning, after the Harvard Business School model. This allows the speakers to invite students into the hard decisions they have faced, as well as the resources they have used to make those decisions. Discussing the successes and failures of the leaders has been an important part of the learning for students.According to Goettler, this has been successful: “leaders have been open to letting students in to where they are, and what the hard decisions have been that they’ve faced, and what the resources are that they’ve used to make those decisions; where they’ve been successful, where they have failed. That’s been pretty important.” A key element in the design of the transformational leadership offerings is that they are public conversations, open to the broader Yale University community and to the New Haven community, especially but not limited to the church community.