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Innovation and Leadership: Furman University’s New Master of Science Program

Last updated March 26, 2024

By Robert Mullikin

Professor Janna Pennington, Director of Furman University’s Master of Science in Innovation and Leadership program.

In a dynamic world where the demands of leadership and innovation continue to evolve, Furman University has decided to develop a new graduate studies program: Master of Science in Innovation and Leadership (MSIL). Spearheaded by Professor Janna Pennington, director of the program, this groundbreaking initiative stems from Furman’s rich legacy of leadership and a commitment to sharing its innovative resources with the broader community. Professor Pennington was recently on the Go Further podcast to discuss Furman’s new master’s program, so here is what you need to know.

At the heart of Furman’s endeavor lies an interdisciplinary approach, designed to combine people from diverse sectors and life stages to collaborate with one another. Unlike traditional MBA programs, which often cater solely to business-centric mindsets, this program brings together individuals from nonprofits, businesses, healthcare and beyond, fostering a collaborative environment where varied perspectives unite to tackle contemporary challenges head-on.

Flexibility is key. Recognizing the demands of professional life, Furman’s program allows students to pursue their studies while maintaining full-time employment. Over the course of one year, participants immerse themselves in a curriculum that blends theoretical frameworks with real-world applications seamlessly.

A standout feature of the program is its innovative course formats. Through initiatives like “Fridays in the Field,” students venture into businesses and nonprofits, gaining invaluable insights from industry experts while gaining meaningful connections for future endeavors.

But who are the ideal candidates for this transformative journey? While the program welcomes individuals from all undergraduate backgrounds, it will likely resonate with those in entrepreneurial, communications and psychology fields. Whether seasoned professionals seeking to refine their leadership abilities or recent graduates eager to chart a bold new path, Furman’s doors are open to all who dare to innovate.

Professor Pennington’s vision infuses every aspect of the program. Drawing from her extensive teaching and leadership development background, she emphasizes the intrinsic connection between personal growth and effective leadership. Through introspective tools like Clifton Strengths, students embark on a journey of self-discovery, honing their strengths and confronting their blind spots to emerge as resilient, insightful leaders.

In a world fraught with complex challenges, adaptability is crucial. Furman’s curriculum equips students with the tools to navigate societal change effectively. By embracing diverse perspectives and leveraging design thinking methodologies, participants are primed to effect meaningful, sustainable change in their respective spheres.

As students progress through the program, they are guided by five core values: curiosity, collaboration, communication, creativity, and courage—the quintessential “5 Cs” of impactful leadership. These values serve as guiding principles, instilling in students the bravery to ask tough questions, embrace failure as a stepping stone to success and think innovatively alongside their peers.

Upon graduation, a world of opportunities awaits. Whether assuming new management roles within their fields or embarking on entrepreneurial ventures, students emerge prepared to lead with confidence and wisdom. 

If personal growth and a deeper understanding of how to create positive societal change and effective workplaces inspire you and align with your professional goals, consider applying to Furman University’s Master of Science in Innovation and Leadership program. For more information on MSIL, listen to the “Go Further” podcast episode, “Professor Janna Pennington – Director of Master of Science in Innovation and Leadership.