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Community Leadership and Public Service

(Certificate Only)

Interdisciplinary undergraduate program

This interdisciplinary certificate program utilizes university courses offered in a variety of academic disciplines to provide a strong foundation and appropriate experiences for undergraduate students who plan to become community leaders and engage in public service—regardless of their profession—in the public, nonprofit or private sectors.

The program requires the completion of 21 credits through three, three-hour core required courses in leadership, speech communication and public administration; a three-hour elective course in communication; six hours of elective courses in leadership; and a three-hour capstone experience through a course, internship or study abroad experience.

The certificate will be awarded by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Completion of the certificate will be noted on the student's transcript and via a certificate provided by the Registrar.


  • Provide opportunities for students to learn about leadership and organizational theories, ethics and decision-making, principles of public service, effective communication, leadership practices in groups and organizations, and diversity issues.
  • Develop leadership skills—including written and oral communication, creative thinking, personal management, group and organizational effectiveness, and problem-solving—important to students' careers, communities and personal development.
  • Bring students into contact with faculty members from diverse academic departments, backgrounds and leadership experiences.
  • Prepare students to undertake leadership roles in their careers and in service to their community through course work and co-curricular activities.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the Certificate in Community Leadership and Public Service, students will:

  • Demonstrate understanding of key concepts of leadership theories and effective practices within groups and organizations and diverse communities.
  • Demonstrate understanding of key concepts of organizational theories, ethics and principles of public service.
  • Demonstrate proficiencies in written and oral communication.
  • Demonstrate awareness of cultural values and diversity issues as they pertain to community leadership and public service.
  • Become engaged citizens through service to the university and larger community.

General requirements

The Certificate in Community Leadership and Public Service requires 21 credits. At least 9 credits must be taken in courses numbered at the 300 level or above. At least 9 credits used for the certificate cannot be used to meet any other department, college or university requirement for the baccalaureate degree except to satisfy the total credit requirement for graduation and to meet credit requirements in courses numbered 300 or above. Courses for the certificate cannot be taken pass-fail. A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 is required in courses taken for the certificate.

The 21 credits required for the certificate are fulfilled by:

9 credits of core required courses 

LAS 222Leadership Styles and Strategies in a Diverse Societyarr †
SP CM 312Business and Professional Speakingarr †
POL S 371Introduction to Public Administrationarr †
or MGMT 371 Organizational Behavior
† Arranged with instructor.

• 6 credits of leadership courses chosen from the designated list.

• 3 credits of a capstone course or experience, which can be fulfilled by a 3-credit course from the list of approved capstone courses, or a 3-credit internship with a community leadership or public service focus, or a 3-credit study abroad experience. Capstone courses focus on the scholarship of leadership in particular fields of study whereas an internship or study abroad provides a leadership-in-practice experience.

Additional communication course, chosen from the following:

COMST 214Professional Communicationarr †
COMST 310Intercultural Communicationarr †
ENGL 302Business Communicationarr †
ENGL 309Report and Proposal Writingarr †
JL MC 305Publicity Methodsarr †
SP CM 212Fundamentals of Public Speakingarr †
SP CM 322Argumentation, Debate, and Critical Thinkingarr †
SP CM 323Gender and Communicationarr †
SP CM 327Persuasionarr †
† Arranged with instructor.

Additional leadership topic courses (6 credits) from:

AESHM 287Principles of Management in Human Sciencesarr †
AESHM 379Community Leadership: Examination of Social Issuesarr †
A E 388Sustainable Engineering and International Developmentarr †
or C E 388 Sustainable Engineering and International Development
or E E 388 Sustainable Engineering and International Development
AGEDS 315Personal, Professional, and Entrepreneurial Leadership in Agriculturearr †
C E 306Project Management for Civil Engineersarr †
COMST 317Small Group Communicationarr †
CON E 114Developing Responsible Learners and Effective Leadersarr †
CON E 380Engineering Lawarr †
C R P 291World Cities and Globalizationarr †
C R P 293Environmental Planningarr †
C R P 425Growth Managementarr †
C R P 429International Planningarr †
C R P 491Environmental Law and Planningarr †
C R P 492Planning Law, Administration and Implementationarr †
ENGR 150Foundations of Leadership Development and Learningarr †
HD FS 395Children, Families, and Public Policyarr †
I E 570Systems Engineering and Project Managementarr †
LAS 170Leadership ISUarr †
M E 412Ethical Responsibilities of a Practicing Engineerarr †
HIST 488American Stuff, Colonial Times to the Presentarr †
MGMT 370Management of Organizationsarr †
MGMT 419Social Responsibility of Businessarr †
MGMT 472Management of Diversityarr †
PHIL 235Ethical Issues in A Diverse Societyarr †
POL S 310State and Local Governmentarr †
POL S 311Municipal Government and Politicsarr †
POL S 344Public Policyarr †
POL S 385Women in Politicsarr †
POL S 413Intergovernmental Relationsarr †
POL S 477Government, Business, and Societyarr †
POL S 480Ethics and Public Affairsarr †
POL S 487Electronic Democracyarr †
SOC 310Communityarr †
SOC 334Politics and Societyarr †
SOC 420Complex Organizationsarr †
SP CM 416History of American Public Addressarr †
SP CM 417Campaign Rhetoricarr †
W S 301International Perspectives on Women and Genderarr †
W S 333Women and Leadershiparr †
W S 435Women and Developmentarr †
† Arranged with instructor.

Capstone Course, Internship or Study Abroad (3 credits), from:

AESHM 421Developing Global Leadership: Maximizing Human Potentialarr †
COMST 404Research Seminar (404C Small Group Communication and 404D Organizational Communication)arr †
C R P 432Community Planning Studio IIarr †
C R P 475Grant Writingarr †
ENGL 418Seminar in Argumentationarr †
HD FS 449Linking Families and Communitiesarr †
M E 484Technology, Globalization and Culturearr †
or WLC 484 Technology, Globalization and Culture
POL S 475Management in the Public Sectorarr †
PSYCH 450Industrial Psychologyarr †
SOC 464Strategies for Community Engagementarr †
W S 488Interdisciplinary Research on Women and Leadershiparr †
† Arranged with instructor.

Instead of a capstone course, students may complete a 3-credit independent study or internship. The independent study or internship must have a public service or community leadership focus and must be approved by the department of the student's major and the Community Leadership and Public Service Advisory Committee. Information on internships is available through the participating colleges and departments, including career services offices. Examples:

LAS 490Independent Study *arr †
* Take Catt Center Project - 490G
LAS 491Service Learningarr †
LAS 499Internshiparr †
W S 491Senior Internshiparr †
† Arranged with instructor.

Instead of a capstone course independent study or internship, students may participate in a study abroad experience that includes 3 hours of credit. The study abroad experience must include a public service or community leadership focus. It must be approved by the student's major department and by the Community Leadership and Public Service Advisory Committee. Information is available through the ISU Study Abroad Center and international programs offices in the participating colleges and departments. Examples: The Dean's International Leadership Seminar, College of Design Rome Program, Service Learning in Uganda, Service Learning in Rwanda, AustraLearn - Challenge New Zealand, Study in Communicty Leadership and Public Service at an Overseas University; LAS 395 Interdisciplinary Study Abroad .

Additional courses may be proposed and approved for inclusion in the list of communication, leadership and capstone courses applicable to the certificate program. Students and advisers should contact the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, 309 Catt Hall, 294-3181, , for the current list of courses.

Prospective enrollees should meet with their adviser on course planning and questions regarding prerequisites and then submit the enrollment package to the Community Leadership and Public Service Advisory Committee, 309 Catt Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 50011-1305. There is no deadline for enrollment; however, students enrolling by April 1 for fall and October 1 for spring will be guaranteed a space in LAS 222 and assistance in registering for the other required classes.