A social justice approach to leadership

MLS cohort

The Multicultural Leadership Scholars Program (MLS) in the CU Boulder School of Education supports the development of leaders from diverse backgrounds, experiences, concerns, knowledge, interests, and accomplishments. Through coursework, service, and socialization, scholars develop a deep awareness of their own values and belief systems as well as those of others. The program features meaningful relationships with professors and peers mentors, diverse practicum classes, career exploration, financial support (for those who are eligible), and an increased sense of community.

MLS is open to undergraduate students who are interested in exploring leadership academically and through community engagement. Applications from first-generation students (neither parent graduated from a four-year college), Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students, and LGBTQ+ students are strongly encouraged.

With MLS, you can:
Multicultural Leadership Scholars

  • Join a community of students who care about social justice

  • Earn a minor in Leadership Studies

  • Gain access to professional development, mentoring, and academic enrichment opportunities

  • Collaborate with other programs in the CU Engage community including Public Achievement, INVST Community Studies, Puksta Scholars, Aquetza, and more.

  • Give back to the program as a peer mentor for incoming students

Contact, MLS Program Director Dr. Johanna Maes for more information! 


In order to maintain an active status with MLS progam, Scholars must enroll in the following courses during the semesters indicated:

1st Year:

Fall Semester 

LEAD 1001 - Becoming a Leader - 3 credits
Introduces students to the theoretical, cultural, and ethical dimensions of leadership and its application to social issues of our time.  Provides students with academic knowledge of leadership and leadership competencies.

EDUC 2910 – Field Practicum I - 1 credit
Students will share their experiences, perspectives, knowledge, thoughts, and ideas as they work toward building and sustaining community and practicing culturally competent leadership within a multicultural setting.  Students are challenged to step outside of their comfort zones and explore their beliefs, values, and socialized ways of being around race, culture, gender, and difference.  May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours.

Spring Semester 

LEAD 2410 - Dynamics of Privilege and Oppression & Empowerment in Leadership - 3 credits
Examination of the theoretical framework of social identity development, individual-, group, cultural- and institutional- power dynamics, and the resulting inequalities formed by systems of privilege and oppression.  Application of theory to both how specific forms of privilege and oppression – and their intersections - are manifested in society and how leadership is used to continue these systems or lead to empowerment and liberation.    

EDUC 2910 – Field Practicum I – repeat for 1 credit

2nd & 3rd Years​

INVS 3100 - Multicultural Leadership: Theories, Principles, and Practices - 3 credits
Focuses on leadership theories and skills necessary for effectiveness in multicultural settings. Students gain an understanding of traditional and culturally diverse approaches to leadership and change through comparative analyses of western and non-western theories and practices.  Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: human diversity.

LEAD 1571 - Topics in Leadership: Introduction to Research Methods- 2 credits
Participants will establish their understanding of research through critical exploration of research language, ethics, and approaches. The course introduces the language of research, ethical principles and challenges, and the elements of the research process within quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches. Participants will use these theoretical underpinnings to begin to critically review literature relevant to their field or interests and determine how research findings are useful in forming their understanding of their work, social, local and global environment. Their work will culminate in a research project proposal submitted to CU's Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program.

4th Year 

LEAD 4000 - Leadership in Context and Emerging Challenges: A Capstone - 4 credits
Integrates leadership topics and experiences students pursued through the Leadership Studies Minor. Using advanced critical thinking skills, the seminar requires students to evidence their knowledge, competencies, and skills related to leadership theory and practice through examining contemporary leadership challenges. Further, the seminar directs students to justify decision-making processes, demonstrating their ability to synthesize prior knowledge to affect desirable, ethical outcomes.


In order to complete the MLS pathway Leadership Minor, Scholars must Completion of the following coursework:

Introductory Course  (3 Credits required)

Course Number Course Title Credits
LEAD 1001 Becoming a Leader                                                                                             3           

Leadership Foundations (3 Credits required)

Course Number Course Title Credits
LEAD 2410 Dynamics of Privilege and Oppression & Empowerment in Leadership    3           

 Leadership Application (4 credits required)

Course Number Course Title Credits
EDUC 2910 Field Practicum I                                                                                                  1
EDUC 2910 Field Practicum 2 1
LEAD 1571 Topics in Leadership: Introduction to Research Methods (required for MLS classes recruited from academic year ’23-24 and beyond) 2

Leadership in Context (3 credits required)

Course Number Course Title Credits
INVS 3100 Multicultural Leadership: Theories, Principles, and Practices                      3           

Capstone (4 credits required)

Course Number Course Title Credits
LEAD 4000 Leadership in Context and Emerging Challenges: A Capstone                      4       


If you were recruited into MLS prior to the ‘2023-24 academic year, you are not required to take LEAD 1571 and your Leadership Studies minor pathway will be 16 credits. All MLS classes, recruited during the 2023-24 academic year and beyond, are required to take LEAD 1571, thus your required credits to earn a Leadership Studies minor will change to 17. 


Scholar Highlights