1. K-State home
  2. »DCM
  3. »K-State News
  4. »News
  5. »New doctoral program takes interdisciplinary approach to leadership communication

K-State News

K-State News
Kansas State University
128 Dole Hall
1525 Mid-Campus Dr North
Manhattan, KS 66506


New doctoral program takes interdisciplinary approach to leadership communication

Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017


MANHATTAN — Kansas State University received approval from the Kansas Board of Regents to offer a new doctoral program in leadership communication starting in fall 2018.

The new program recognizes the need for interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex challenges. The communication studies, and communications and agricultural education departments, along with the Staley School of Leadership Studies, created the program.

The leadership communication program is an interdisciplinary research degree.

"This doctoral degree is rooted in the leadership practices and communication processes used to make progress on the most difficult challenges of our times," said Tim Steffensmeier, the director for the graduate program. Steffensmeier is an associate professor in the Staley School of Leadership Studies and research director of the Kansas Leadership Center.

Through the study and practice of leading change, students will produce original research that is grounded in community-engaged scholarship. The curriculum will integrate theoretical and applied approaches to understand leadership communication. Graduates will use community-engaged research to transform the academic, nonprofit, government, and private and civic sectors in which they live and work.

The land-grant mission of Kansas State University drives the commitment to more effectively engage the public locally, nationally and internationally, according to Steffensmeier.

"Learning how to conduct research and engage publics to lead change in our increasingly diverse society is needed,” Steffensmeier said. “This program provides opportunities for the discovery of knowledge and the education of graduate students to conduct research alongside communities through engaged scholarship. Through this research program, the university will contribute to the highly skilled and educated citizenry needed to address the complex challenges of our society."

Students entering this program will represent a variety of academic backgrounds and sectors because of the interdisciplinary and applied nature of the program. The following are targeted for the program:

• Students interested in the communication aspects of leading social change.

• Truman and Udall scholars who have a demonstrated commitment to public service leadership and seek an applied terminal degree.

• Students who will become research faculty in agricultural communication, communication studies or leadership studies.

• Students preparing for jobs with nongovernmental organizations, corporations, foundations and government who need to conduct original research and engage communities/publics. Increasingly, these organizations are seeking community engagement professionals who can convene, interact and understand publics in productive ways.

"No other research programs — those that focus primarily on the discursive aspects of leading change — are like this in the Kansas Regents system or in the region," Steffensmeier said.

"Small pieces of this program are represented in traditional disciplinary units such as the expertise in communication studies," said David Procter, professor of communication studies and director of the Center for Engagement and Community Development. "However, the unique combination of these three disciplines working together with the outreach arm of the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy in the communication studies department is unprecedented."

Faculty of the Staley School of Leadership Studies and the communication studies, and the communications and agriculture education departments will introduce campus and community partners to the new Doctor of Philosophy in leadership communication program through a Leading Change Institute, Sept. 20-22. A public panel will be at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, in Town Hall of the Leadership Studies Building to discuss more about leading change, engaging communities and advancing communication through this program.

Questions about the new program can be directed to Steffensmeier at 785-532-6085 or steffy@k-state.edu.


Tim Steffensmeier


Graduate School

Written by

Kelsey Peterson