Share Royal Roads Online

Happy New Year from the School of Leadership Studies

January 2, 2020
Catherine Etmanski
Happy New Year sign

Exciting Initiatives for 2020

The School of Leadership Studies has a mission to cultivate the imagination, courage, and capacity for leading in extraordinary times.

As one example of living into this mission, in our Master’s of Arts in Leadership (MAL) program, we ask students to demonstrate leadership through their capstone projects or theses through an engaged and action-oriented approach to research. We therefore introduce students to a range of engagement methods and methodological traditions.

Over the years, we have primarily drawn from action-oriented approaches to research, such as action research, participatory research, community-based research, collaborative inquiry, appreciative inquiry, arts-based research, and more. Moreover, there is a rich and growing body of scholarship related to Indigenous methodologies and decolonizing research (see sample resources below). This body of scholarship advances helpful perspectives and practices for Indigenous researchers and descendants of immigrants alike.

These approaches to leadership as research are grounded in systems change, complexity, and being present to emergence.

To further support learning, teaching, and practising these engaged leadership approaches, I am delighted to announce three exciting initiatives coming soon.

1. Indigenous Scholar in Residence

One of the challenges before us is to lead well – with humility, integrity, courage, and creativity – in this era of reconciliation. As such, we are delighted to be working in collaboration with Dr. Mike Lickers to pilot a new Indigenous Scholar in Residence initiative in MAL. Dr. Lickers is an alumus of this program as well as a senior advisor of Indigenous Relations at Suncor Energy in Alberta. We know that leaders are enriched by a deeper appreciation of Canada's history as well as Indigenous approaches to leadership, resilience, and sustainability. We are indeed lucky to have a respected Canadian leader lend his support to our School from January 26 to February 7, 2020.

2. Visiting Professor

We are honoured that Dr. Hilary Bradbury has agreed to serve as a visiting professor throughout 2020. Dr. Bradbury is Editor-In-Chief of the SAGE Action Research Journal (ARJ). She co-edited the bestselling SAGE Handbook of Action Research with Peter Reason, and was the sole editor of the 2015 edition. She is now leading the Action Research Plus (AR+) network, a global online and face-to-face community in which action-oriented scholar-practitioners find the developmental edge of action research in response to the demands of our times. Having Dr. Bradbury join us on campus in January and June of 2020 is a tremendous opportunity both for the School and for RRU more broadly.

3. Leadership Conference, April 2020

When working in this realm of complexity, many of us have an urge to dive immediately into problem-solving and action. Taking the time to understand the system, its actors, and their stories as deeply as is possible can feel difficult. Humbly hanging out in the void of uncertainty can feel almost impossible. Yet, engaging in these practices can sometimes create space for a shift in consciousness that can generate more sustainable and innovative, collaboratively-owned solutions.

Over two days of the conference (April 24 and 25), participants will draw from Otto Scharmer’s Theory U and move through the principles of sensing, presencing, and realizing together with a smaller group of like-minded leaders. World class keynote speakers and mentor-facilitators will support in exploring new and/or different perspectives and develop practical skills and knowledge to inspire innovation and change. Find out more about our upcoming conference.

We are grateful to the many people who have worked to make these initiatives possible. We hope you will join us in sharing the excitement of this work to cultivate the imagination, courage, and capacity for leading in extraordinary times.


Archibald, J., Xiiem, Q., Lee-Morgan, J. B. J., & De Santolo, J. (Eds.). (2019). Decolonizing research: Indigenous storywork as methodology. London, UK: Zed Books.

Bradbury, H. (Ed.) SAGE handbook of action research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Kovach, M. E. (2010). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations, and contexts. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Tuhiwai Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. New York, NY: Zed Books.

Wilson, S. (2009). Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Winnipeg, Canada: Fernwood.