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Masterclass Diversity and Underrepresented Groups in Leadership: Women, LGBTQ, BIPOC, Intersectionality and BeyondRepresentation Matters: Leadership is for everyone!

Nynke Douma
Laura Caputo Monzón


In the Honours College curriculum, there are no dedicated diversity courses. This is an issue, as representation in leadership is extremely important. Moreover, many students do not come into contact with diversity related topics, and students who would like to study diversity currently cannot do so through the Honours College. To solve this issue, we created a masterclass on diversity and inclusion in leadership, using literature on these topics. This masterclass will introduce students to diversity, inclusion and related concepts, and encourage them to reflect on them and their own position. Our final product consists of four lesson plans of two hours, one plan for each session. The sessions start off with broad topics and as we progress will get into more complex concepts. These plans feature recommendations for topics, materials and discussions but are highly customizable. The masterclass is highly interactive and features discussions, reflections and take-home assignments that allow students to engage with the material on their own level and from their own perspective. Our masterclass is an accessible opportunity for students to get acquainted with diversity thinking, while allowing students who are already familiar with these topics to delve deeper into the complexities that come with them.


When looking into the courses offered by the Honours College: Leadership making the difference!, a lack of dedicated diversity courses was noticed. Some courses do touch briefly upon this topic, but do not delve into it. This is an issue for two reasons. Firstly, students do not get to experience diversity in leadership. The program currently presents a singular type of leadership, and while the discussed topics are very diverse, the kind of leaders/leadership are not. This means that there is a continuous exposure of traditional leadership styles and contexts which is not representative of the pluralistic society in which we live. Plus, leadership does not only mean holding a leadership position. Developing leadership traits and capabilities, plus acknowledging that one has leadership potential, is tremendously empowering, especially for individuals whose voices are not usually heard. Secondly, there may be students who are already interested in the topic of diversity and inclusion and cannot further their interest through this program. Even though there is enough literature available and there are experts in the university to teach in the programme, there is currently no opportunity in the honours curriculum to do so. 

To solve the presented flaw, an educational redesign was developed. This consists of a potential masterclass titled: Masterclass MA Honours College – Masterclass Diversity and Underrepresented Groups in Leadership: Women, LGBTQ, BIPOC, Intersectionality and Beyond. It will consist of four sessions with a two-hour duration each, in which diversity in leadership will be introduced, contextualized, discussed and reflected on. This will be done through featuring theoretical background, discussions, activities, assignments, guest speakers and a final assignment that will be designed by students themselves. 

Stakeholders have provided advice on this project. Dr. Maria Guajardo, expert in the field of educational leadership, acknowledged the relevance of implementing such a course and greatly encouraged it. Moreover, she advised on the importance of the words used. The groups we are discussing through this masterclass are not minorities, rather, they are underrepresented in society. Due to this, we switched the title of the masterclass from using ‘minorities’ to ‘underrepresented groups’. Dr. Han van der Strate from the Honours College gave advice on how to practically implement this masterclass in the honours college curriculum. A point of attention was the practical issue of the sessions being quite full of content, which may cause issues in implementation when certain parts take longer than expected. To solve this issue, we already have the flexible block system, in which each session is built up out of separate building blocks, which could be easily taken out or potentially switched out for another activity. If useful, we may code which blocks are the most important, to give some guidance in implementation for which parts can be left out without issues and which parts are more vital. Generally, it seems the masterclass has potential for implementation. In fact, the Honours College is looking to implement such a course starting from next year. One possibility for implementation would be to combine our ideas with those from other students who are also working on developing a class on the same topic. Moreover, in terms of who would teach the class, a possibility would be to combine forces with a senior teacher specialized in the field. The masterclass would then feature them, with us (Nynke Douma and Laura Caputo) as assistants. Our redesign will be presented to the Honours college and will be developed further to look into options for implementation.


The following are the initial objectives for the masterclass. Our masterclass should be:

  •  Complete enough for students to gain substantial knowledge: several concepts are being presented, such as the definition of diversity and its various facets, underrepresented groups in leadership, the way that all of these concepts connect, etcetera. There is a need to portray these concepts through well-structured lectures. Relevant literature and resources should also be provided to students. All in all, this first goal of the masterclass aims to build a theoretical foundation of knowledge for students to be competent on the topic.
  • Dynamic enough for students to contribute with their existing knowledge and critical thinking: the master-class’ second goal is for students to actively take part and contribute as much as possible. The issue being presented is something many students may relate to, and it would be a waste of potential to simply have a lecturer spoon-feeding them. Case studies of real-life situations can be discussed, students could be asked to bring their own examples, and critical thinking discussions could be encouraged for them to work on.
  • Practical enough so that students can connect theory with real-life situations: it is tremendously important to make theory alive through practical, real-life situations and people. Guest lecturers who are or have experience with minorities in leadership would be very important for students to see, listen to, and ask questions. Through experiencing real-world situations, students can practice skills they have learnt through the masterclass. For this, role-play scenarios and problem-solving situations could be prepared. 

To frame and structure the lesson plans of the masterclass, the The three critical elements of effective leadership studies programmes from Harvey and Jenkins (2014) were taken as a guide. First, knowledge. It means to introduce a foundation of knowledge in the field. In the case of the masterclass, we name this process ‘coming to terms with terms’. For example, the term intersectionality will be introduced through scholarly articles and theoretical frameworks. Secondly, praxis. This step wants to encourage learning by doing. In our lesson plan this is introduced through case studies, role plays, leadership dynamics such as the ‘heard, seen, respected’ dynamic, in which students will put themselves into others’ shoes taking a leadership role and through storytelling.  Finally, reflection. Through discussions and take-home assignments, students will be encouraged to reflect on the learning experience. Guiding questions will be presented, for example: ‘how did I feel, and what were my reactions?’. Next to this, students will develop their final project based on their own interests and interpretations from the masterclass, in the format of their desire. 

The final product is presented below, through a series of four lesson plans corresponding to each session of the masterclass. The lesson plan is customizable, but the presented resources and topics are highly recommended by the authors of this redesign. 

In the images on the next few pages, you can see the filled-out lesson plans for each of the masterclasses. The lesson plans can also be accessed through this link to be able to access the links in the lesson plans. 

The masterclass consists of four sessions, going from broader, more accessible topics to more in-depth and complex topics. The first session is an introduction and discusses female leadership. Session II is on BIPOC in leadership and discusses activism and grassroots movements. Session III is on LGBTQ, religion and disabilities in leadership. The final session of the masterclass ties the separate sessions together by using the theme of intersectionality. 

Each session has learning objectives stated at the beginning of the lesson plan. With the exception of the first session, which is more introductory in nature, all sessions have room for a guest speaker. After the first session, the rest of the sessions starts with an introductory discussion or reflection. Sessions always feature a ‘Coming to terms with terms’ section as explained above, in which students get a theoretical introduction to the subject. The rest of the session then consists of media examples, reflections and discussions.

Each session also features a small take-home assignment. These assignments are intended to help students reflect and to allow for students to delve deeper into the parts of the curriculum they like most. In the first assignment, students will use the Harvard Implicit Association test to reflect on their bias as well as on the critiques on the HIA test itself. In the second assignment, students choose a leader from an underrepresented group to learn more about and reflect on how their identity affected them in their leadership, which will then lead to a reflection on how their own identity influences them and their position in the world. After session three, students are encouraged to watch a documentary on one of the underrepresented groups that was discussed so far, with recommendations given but freedom to choose for themselves. Next to this, they are encouraged to find a visual way to represent their identity/the parts of their identity. 

After the fourth session, students will work on their final assignment. As set out earlier, they are free to design the format and content of this themselves. This decision was made to allow for students to apply what they learned in the masterclass to their own field and to use their creativity in this final reflective assignment. For example, a media student could reflect on the chances for BIPOC film directors in Hollywood and the reception of their movies compared to other directors. Students are also free in which format they choose, which could be a video, podcast, presentation, paper, report or something different. Students are offered some ideas for their final assignment to help them get started and in case they do not have an idea on how to shape it themselves. Examples of final assignment ideas could be to further develop their report on the leader they researched in assignment two, or to reflect on one of the documentaries they watched or the visual representation they made of their identity. Students are free to use one of these ideas but are encouraged to use their own ideas if they would like to.


Educational experiences must prepare students for life, in professional skills and non-pecuniary benefits. Learning about diversity in leadership is an important way to do so, since in our globalized world, it is not realistic to continue perceiving leadership as it was traditionally. 

When individuals from underrepresented groups see themselves in leadership, they feel represented in society. This helps to break image stereotypes and helps make minorities and underrepresented groups feel valued in society. Diversity in leadership only begets more diversity in society and everyone feels included and represented (Renner, 2019). 

Students’ exposure to these topics can be of great benefit for their leadership skills, knowledge, motivation and long-term influence in society. This masterclass would be enriching content wise and structure wise. The above-mentioned potential way of conducting it is inspired by the authentic academic work theory by Furrer, Skinner, and Pitzer (2014). Tasks that are project based, progressive, and that students consider meaningful, valuable, and worthy of one’s effort are important to solve real-world questions. The classroom will become a cooperative learning community and everyone’s efforts are needed for achieving the learning goals plus each student’s progress and success.


Furrer, C., Skinner, E., & Pitzer, J. (2014) The Influence of Teacher and Peer Relationships on Students’ Classroom Engagement and Everyday Resilience. Retrieved from’_Classroom_Engagement_and_Everyday_Resilience

Harvey, M., & Jenkins, D. M. (2014). Knowledge, praxis, and reflection: the three critical elements of effective leadership studies programs. Journal of Leadership Studies, 7(4), 76–85.