Strategic Planning 101

sparkYes, classes have started, and students are finally settling down to reading, writing and feverishly preparing for this weekend’s broomball tournament. But on top of taking the usual highbrow classes, with erudite titles that role of the tongue like Gender Trouble: Modern Women Writers in Latin America & the Afro-Hispanic Diaspora, or Art on the Walls: Ceramic Tiles in Seljuk and Ottoman Architecture, Meaning and Design, a select group of students is shuffling off to the bright lights of Brattleboro for a taste of postgraduatiana. That’s right, for students who are thinking about real-life situations where they might apply their new philosophical axioms, like “whoever desires the ends desires the means to that end” or “natura abhorret a vacua” (nature abhors the void), there are a suite of practical courses available at the Marlboro College Graduate School.

I know this because I sat in on the awesome intro class of Fundamentals of Non-Profit Management, taught by Kate Jellema, program director at the graduate school. Up to four undergraduate students will shuffle down to join this class, alongside executive directors, board members, project managers and other important-sounding professionals. The program in nonprofit management is just crawling with seasoned idealists, entrepreneurs, community leaders and social innovators, the kind of cool grown-ups that many Marlboro students will become some day. Having the undergraduate students along for the ride, as they learn about fundraising, strategic planning, governance, and other topics involved in running a nonprofit, is a breath of fresh, snowy Potash Hill air and a source of reflection for all involved.

classroom_51But wait, there’s more! Several of the programs at the graduate school offer a dual degree program that allows Marlboro students to go on and get their master’s degree faster than you can say, “self-directed learning.” Not really that fast, of course, but for most programs they can earn graduate credits while they are still an undergraduate, working on a Plan of Concentration on environmental studies and the economics of butterfly farming. This makes a kind of no-brainer, two-for-one deal: I mean, students can start their graduate program with up to nine credits that count toward both degrees. Even better, while in the mini-metropolis of Brattleboro, students get to stop at Mocha Joe’s for a maple vanilla cream latte on the way to class.


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