During the second year of the program, each student completes a Practicum project, which is a unique feature of the AU MSOD program. This supervised, full-cycle OD project at the intersection of theory and practice becomes an important component of an OD graduate's portfolio.
In the 6-8 month Practicum course, each student obtains, contracts, and works with a real client system, applying the theories and practices learned in the MSOD curriculum. Throughout the project, students work closely with and are mentored by their Practicum Adviser. S/he is a distinguished graduate of the MSOD program who is also an active OD practitioner. The Practicum Director, Dr. David Jamieson, a senior OD scholar-practitioner and OD Network Lifetime Achievement Awardee, manages the curriculum and the process of the Practicum program.
Practicum projects differ from strictly research projects or staff work in that students collaborate with client system agents, leaders, and members to develop their projects. As students progress in and complete the Practicum project, they develop final reports in which they describe their process, results, use of self, and the theories related to their experiences. The Practicum is a process in which perspectives, values, assumptions, beliefs, and skills in OD practice are clarified, tested, modified, and reported in written form.
Excerpts from Recent Practicum Projects
From a project that helped shift leadership from board over-involvement to fuller staff engagement:
"The work over the past nine months with (x) has been an amazing experience. ..I feel confident and capable in my abilities to help organizations and the field of OD grow and expand...The interactions and learnings I have had are the foundation for the consultant I want to become. Because of this project I know I can be an effective agent of change."
From a project with a founder-led business:
"My practicum experience was hugely beneficial for my OD education. Practicing OD in a live environment with the support of an experienced practitioner (the Practicum Adviser) gave me the experience I needed to cement my OD learning and fill in where there were gaps. I will go forward into the field with a renewed understanding as to how OD is different than other modes of consultation, and with a confidence that I can help organizations in a unique way thanks to my training in OD."
From a project with a national nonprofit interest group:
"...Self is the most important tool of the practitioner...Use of self involves making a difference, giving and risking, and providing a force not usually seen or experienced by the client...The ability to be a neutral presence, not take sides, and to be fully present to listen to all perspectives was so vital during my whole practicum process."