Becoming a Social Change Agent

In Spring of 2012 I offered a new class for IIT’s Stuart School of Business, Masters of Public Administration Program. MPA 597, “Strategies and Tools for the Social Change Agent.” Here’s how we described this class:

Tom Tresser has started or led eleven nonprofit enterprises in the arts, community development and social change. He was the Green Party candidate for Cook County Commissioner in 2010. In 2009 he was a co-leader of No Games Chicago Campaign that worked to stop the 2016 Olympics from coming to Chicago. He is working on a project to establish a public bank for Illinois. Over the years he has worked on a number of grassroots campaigns and initiatives and created a wide range of education, training and leadership development. He has been a champion of creativity and innovation and has worked for an Internet start-up and a Fortune 200 executive development training firm. He developed and is teaching a class on creativity and business for the IIT Stuart School of Business and taught a class on creative leadership for the Institute of Psychology. He will be offering a new class for the MPA Program in Spring 2012 – “MPA 597, “Strategies & Tools for the Social Change Agent.” Tom will bring his 20-plus years of organizing, innovation planning and knowledge of technology and civic engagement to bear on this class, which will teach you the best practices of the change agent and intrapreneur and community organizer. We will look at personal change, organizational change and civic change. Change is happening. Will it happen TO you or will YOU be the agent that triggers the change?

We looked at three broad areas of content: (1) Personal change and qualities of the transformational leader, (2) Organizational change, and (3) Civic change.

On February 7, 2012 our class visited the DePaul Sullivan Athletic Center where we were coached by Lisa Ryckbosch and former Bulls player, Dave Corzine!
The purpose of the visit was to feel what it’s like to get great coaching. After, we talked about the connections between coaching and leadership and between BEING coached and being a follower. See the images plus two short videos here.

On April 11, 2012 two veteran community organizers visited our class. Jitu Brown is the Education Organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and Michael Klonsky is a professor of education at DePaul University, leader of the small schools movement and working to stop public school closings. They spoke about how they got started in civic work, the lessons they learned and what they are fighting for. It’s a riveting and often moving 90 minutes. Watch it here.


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