Weitzman News

Posted June 15, 2022

Weitzman Launches Leadership in Design Program

The Weitzman School of Design is accepting applications for a new Executive Program in Design Leadership (XDL), a six-month certificate for designers looking to advance their leadership skills in an online program that offers affordability, convenience, and a dynamic community of professional learners.

The program is taught by leading design educators, practitioners, and experts in leadership development, with courses focused on relationship-building, inclusivity, and transformational leadership. Courses are offered online, with a two-day summit partway through the cycle. Rob Fleming, Weitzman’s newly-appointed director of online innovation and faculty director for XDL, said the School is expecting an initial cohort of 30-50 students, with courses beginning in October.

“The big skill that we’re looking at right now is how to become a transformative design leader,” Fleming said. “We’re not just improving skills incrementally, but helping professionals to create a whole new platform for leadership.” The program responds to a demand for more agency among professional designers and design leaders, Fleming said. It’s designed to help leaders build more equitable and collaborative work cultures, respond to challenges with design thinking, and guide organizational change. The XDL curriculum focuses on fostering leadership that’s built on self-awareness, empathy, and intentionality, he said. And it helps leaders take seriously the imperative for inclusivity and collaboration in the contemporary design workplace.

XDL builds on the success of the Executive Program for Social Innovation Design (XSD), a collaboration between the Weitzman School and the School of Social Policy & Practice that was launched in 2019.

Anticipated core faculty include Fleming, an architect, educator, and author who was formerly founding director of the master of science in sustainable design at Jefferson University; Lucinda Sanders, CEO and partner at OLIN, a landscape architecture firm located in Philadelphia; Carla Thomas, an organizational development scholar-practitioner and founder of The Realize Leadership Group; A. Mecquel, PhD student in Clinical Research, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and instructor, Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University; and Sarah Rottenberg, an adjunct assistant professor and executive director of the Integrated Product Design Program at Penn.

XDL has received approval as a provider of continuing education credits by the American Institute of Architects, and is seeking approval from the American Society of Landscape Architects and other professional associations in the design fields as well. Interested professionals can learn more and apply on the website, with an early application deadline of July 1 and all applications due by September 1, 2022.

More certificate programs are in the works as the Weitzman School and the wider field of design education evolves to meet the needs of today’s designers. Future offerings will be focused on sustainable design, and justice and belonging in the design fields, Fleming said.

“This is part of a larger reconsideration of the role that higher education can and should play in society,” he said. “There’s a lot of value in graduate and undergraduate degrees. But for working professionals, there’s a strong demand for another platform of learning that makes sense for that group. The cost of the program is priced to be within range of what most professionals can afford, making XDL accessible to a wider, and potentially more diverse audience.”

The XDL website provides more information about program curriculum, anticipated faculty, and application requirements.