Why Study Community Leadership?

Aquinas is one of only a select few colleges to offer an interdisciplinary major designed to provide you with perspective on community leadership and social justice, to develop your organizational and analytical problem-solving skills, and to deepen your sense of civic responsibility through service opportunities in local agencies and organizations. A signature program at Aquinas College, Community Leadership was created by local leaders to prepare you to be engaged with and in your community to work for the public good. Focusing on local issues with local leaders will inspire you to think critically and globally, as well as prepare you for social justice-oriented careers in public and nonprofit organizations. As a graduate of the Aquinas College Community Leadership program, you will have the practical experience of how social justice informs effective community service and leadership.

How We're Different

  1. Unique at Aquinas and unique in the country: Our program is one of only a few in the U.S. where you can earn a bachelor’s degree with a community leadership major.
  2. The program was developed by former Grand Rapids’ Mayor George Heartwell, and community activist Mike Williams in 1999 to encourage leadership for the public good.
  3. Students engage with Grand Rapids leaders and organizations to address issues of social injustice, including poverty, homelessness, food scarcity, human trafficking, and environmental injustice.
  4. Majors and minors complete at least 200 hours of intensive field experience in the community.
  5. The Community Leadership Club connects the local and global, raising funds to send a Malawi girl to private high school.
  6. Graduates of the community leadership program are now leaders at more than 15 Grand Rapids non-profit organizations where they mentor current students.
  7. Dr. Michael Lorr, program director, completed research on skateboarding and punk rock subcultures, sustainable development, and social movements.
  8. Clement Chiwaya ‘02, one of the first program graduates, is a current member of the Malawi Parliament.
  9. Community leadership majors learn skills for the field and future leadership roles, including grant writing, accounting for non-profits, and completing participatory action research and assessment methods.
  10. Community leadership cultivates interdisciplinary critical thought, including multiple perspectives on community, leadership, social justice and social entrepreneurship.

Major Requirements

The Community Leadership major requires thirty-seven (37) semester hours (28 required, 9 elective). Required courses (25 credits):

  • CL100 Exploring Community Leadership (4) PSC
  • AG100 Financial Activities for Nonprofits (3) BE
  • GY212 Urban Geography (4)
  • ES211 Microeconomic Principles (3) BE
  • TY255 Catholic Social Teaching (3) TF
  • SY375 Complex Organizations (3) OR BS356 Organizational Leadership (3)
  • CL/SY396 Sociological Practicum in Community Leadership (4)
  • CL400 Community Leadership Capstone Seminar (4) SC
  • Nine (9) elective hours. One elective per discipline and two of the three electives must be at the 200-level or above.

Students must have a minimum grade of C in each course.


  • CL100 Exploring Community Leadership (3) PSC
  • CL/SY396 Sociological Practicum in Community Leadership (4)
  • CL400 Community Leadership Capstone Seminar (3) SC
  • AG100 Financial Activities for Nonprofits (3) BE
  • BS356 Organizational Leadership (3)
  • ES211 Microeconomic Principles (3) BE
  • GY212 Urban Geography (4)
  • TY255 Catholic Social Teaching (3) TF
  • BS200 Fundamentals of Organizations for the Non-Major (3) BE
  • BS425 Not-for-Profit Organizations: Theory and Practice (3)
  • CL300 Fund Development and Grant Writing (3)
  • CL310 Special Topics in Community Leadership (variable)
  • CL398 Readings in Community Leadership (variable)
  • CL399 Independent Project in Community Leadership (variable)
  • ES212 Macroeconomic Principles (3) BE
  • GY264 Economic Geography (3)
  • GY313 Advanced Urban Geography (Variable)
  • GY413 Urban and Regional Planning (3)
  • PS101 American Government and Politics (3) PGC
  • PS310 Modern Political Problems Seminar (3)
  • CL/PS345 Public Policy (3)
  • PS401 Health Care Policy (3)
  • PS402 Education Policy (3)
  • PS350 Methods and Inquiry in Political Science (3)
  • SY102 Introduction to Social Work (3)
  • SY103 Cultural Anthropology (3) PCG, GP
  • PG/SY201 Social Psychology (3)
  • SY260 Social Problems (3) PSC
  • SY302 Community Sociology (3)
  • SY375 Complex Organizations (3)
  • TY250 Christian Morality (3) TF

Program taught in:
  • English

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Last updated June 2, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
4 years
25,000 USD
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Start Date
End Date
June 2020
Application deadline
Application deadline
End Date
June 2020

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