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Session Materials

Course Syllabus

Take a look at the course syllabus for more details on the IHI Open School course: Leadership and Organizing for Change. The syllabus includes a timeline overview of the curriculum, a summary of the learning goals, and information on the course's expert faculty.

Who should take the course?

This course is for anyone – regardless of their background, the setting they are working in, and the area of health or health care that they seek to change for the better.

Course participants are:

  • Students, trainees, faculty members, professionals, practitioners, community members
  • Working in organizations, on university campuses, in communities
  • Experts in quality improvement, community organizing, population health – or new to those fields
  • Members of the IHI Open School Chapter Network or new to the Open School
  • From across the world

This course is intended to train anyone who seeks to be a leader of change, and is designed to create a social and supportive learning environment that brings together people of diverse backgrounds and experiences to learn from and with each other.

Do I have to start the course with a project in mind?

You do not. In the first weeks of the course, learners identify a topic of interest and set a clear, measurable aim for the project they will lead. The course offers tools to help learners identify a driver of health and a facet of the health care system they would like to improve.

Learners begin the course from different starting points:

  • They are ready to lead change but do not have a project design in mind
  • They have project design in mind but have not yet launched their project
  • They are involved in an initiative that is underway, and will apply the skills they learn in the course to that work

What's important is that each learner choose a project to advance through the course and set a measurable aim for that work. The aim can describe what a learner will accomplish during the course or on a longer-term timeline. Projects do not need to be completed by the end of the course; in fact, we hope that learners seek to lead a sustainable project that extends beyond the end of the course and continues to achieve outcomes and have a positive impact in their local setting.

What kind of project can I lead through the course?

Learners have applied the leadership and community organizing approach to a diverse array of projects, for example:

  • Building capacity to implement a patient-centered medical home across practices in a health care system
  • Training hospital employees in motivational interviewing to support patient behavior change
  • Creating a sepsis protocol and scaling it across a hospital
  • Launching an interprofessional student-run clinic for the homeless population in a city
  • Convening a coalition across stakeholder groups to develop solutions to the opioid epidemic

Will this course walk me through leading a quality improvement project?

It will not. If you are looking for virtual training on quality improvement, please explore the offerings at

If you are a student, you can take the IHI Open School Quality Improvement Practicum, which walks learner through the process of conducting a quality improvement project and covers the Model for Improvement, aims and measures, Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles, cause and effect diagrams, and run charts.

Does the course offer continuing education credits of any kind?

Not at this time. However, you will receive a Certificate of Completion at the end of the course.

What is the expected weekly time commitment for the course?

Participation in the course involves a time commitment of 3-5 hours per week, including didactic education (online lectures, assignments, readings), attendance at live Coaching Calls, and field work applying the new knowledge and skills to a project.

What are the requirements to receive a Certificate of Completion for the course?

We expect learners to commit to the following items in order to receive a Certificate of Completion:

  • Watch all weekly videos
  • Complete weekly assignments
  • Complete the course summary document
  • Attend all (or view recordings of) all live Coaching Calls
  • Complete the post-course evaluation

Why is a lesson released on a certain date? Why do the lessons have deadlines?

The course is structured around weekly deadlines because we believe that the best way to develop skills in leadership and community organizing is to commit to applying them in real time, together with a cohort of fellow learners.

To facilitate each learner progressing through the lessons together with the cohort, each Thursday, a lesson is released and remains open until the following Wednesday.

We expect learners to view the video lectures, practice the skills for that week (i.e. share your public narrative; conduct one-to-one conversations) and submit assignments through the online portal during that week.

What are Coaching Calls?

There are 5 live 60-minute Coaching Calls that take place throughout the course: Lesson 1, Lesson 3, Lesson 5, Lesson 8, and a Celebration Call. They are scheduled for 1 to 2 PM ET on Thursdays.

We expect all learners to make their best effort to attend and participate in Coaching Calls. Coaching Calls are opportunities for faculty to share new material, guide the cohort through exercises and reflections on the previous weeks' lessons, and share project examples that can be helpful to the rest of the cohort. Coaching Calls are also opportunities for the entire cohort to network, practice skills together, and learn from one another.

If you are unable to attend a Coaching Call – whether this is due to a scheduling conflict or a time zone issue (we do not expect learners to call in during the middle of the night from Southeast Asia, for example!) – we encourage learners to review the recording of the presentation, which we will send via email.