Robertson Work

Professor of Public Service

Robertson Work, adjunct professor of public service, is founder/director of Innovative Leadership Services and facilitator/trainer for UNDESA, UN Habitat and the East-West Center, among others. Mr. Work is also a Fulbright Senior Specialist assisting universities overseas and a Fellow of the NYU Wagner Research Center for Leadership in Action.

Previously he was UNDP's Principal Policy Adviser of Decentralized Governance for 16 years at UN headquarters in New York. While with UNDP he designed and coordinated the Local Initiative Facility for Urban Environment (LIFE) operating in 20 countries and another global program, Decentralizing the MDGs through Innovative Leadership. He also coordinated a global community of practice on decentralized governance, provided policy advice to countries worldwide, conducted research and prepared global policy papers.

Prior to UNDP, Mr. Work served in Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Jamaica, USA and Venezuela for 21 years as country and regional director with the Institute of Cultural Affairs, an international NGO with UN Eco Soc Consultative status. His work of human development in 55 countries has consisted of the design and implementation of research, training and demonstration projects in leadership, organizational and community development, rural and urban development, NGO and project management, policy formulation and advice and group facilitation.

Mr. Work has written widely on decentralization and local governance, urban and rural development, poverty eradication and environmental improvement, the role of civil society in governance and development, capacity development and participatory methods. His most recent book is A Compassionate Civilization: The Urgency of Sustainable Development and Mindful Activism - Reflections and Recommendations. He has previously taught at the University of the West Indies, University of Aruba, Antioch University Graduate School of Whole System Design, the ICA Global Academy and the Social Artistry School.  He conducted his graduate studies at Indiana University and Chicago Theological Seminary and undergraduate studies at Oklahoma State University, which honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2003. He and his wife Rev. Bonnie Myotai Treace live in Asheville, NC, and Garrison, NY.

Organizations in the public, private and non-profit sector are being challenged to meet 21st century standards of performance and to meet challenges that cross sector and organizational boundaries. This course presents the practice of OD and HRD in the context of a changing environment organized around the customer, client and citizen. Today customers, donors, employees and regulators demand more transparent and participatory process. This requires that accountability be designed in, performance standards set, strategy implemented, stakeholders satisfied and sustainability built in. OD/HRD methods aim to enable organizations to learn how to deal with a changing world.

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Continuation of CAP-GP.3226.

As part of the core curriculum of the NYU Wagner Masters program, Capstone teams spend an academic year addressing challenges and identifying opportunities for a client organization or conducting research on a pressing social question. Wagner's Capstone program provides students with a centerpiece of their graduate experience whereby they are able to experience first-hand turning the theory of their studies into practice under the guidance of an experienced faculty member. Projects require students to get up-to-speed quickly on a specific content or issue area; enhance key process skills including project management and teamwork; and develop competency in gathering, analyzing, and reporting out on data. Capstone requires students to interweave their learning in all these areas, and to do so in real time, in an unpredictable, complex, real-world environment.

Download Syllabus

Organizations in the public, private and non-profit sector are being challenged to meet 21st century standards of performance and to meet challenges that cross sector and organizational boundaries. This course presents the practice of OD and HRD in the context of a changing environment organized around the customer, client and citizen. Today customers, donors, employees and regulators demand more transparent and participatory process. This requires that accountability be designed in, performance standards set, strategy implemented, stakeholders satisfied and sustainability built in. OD/HRD methods aim to enable organizations to learn how to deal with a changing world.

Download Syllabus

Couples with CAP-GP.3227.

As part of the core curriculum of the NYU Wagner Masters program, Capstone teams spend an academic year addressing challenges and identifying opportunities for a client organization or conducting research on a pressing social question. Wagner's Capstone program provides students with a centerpiece of their graduate experience whereby they are able to experience first-hand turning the theory of their studies into practice under the guidance of an experienced faculty member. Projects require students to get up-to-speed quickly on a specific content or issue area; enhance key process skills including project management and teamwork; and develop competency in gathering, analyzing, and reporting out on data. Capstone requires students to interweave their learning in all these areas, and to do so in real time, in an unpredictable, complex, real-world environment.

Download Syllabus

The course will explore an integral framework for international development that compliments the current hyper-rational, statistical, technocratic, bureaucratic approach. Integral development includes systems/institutions/policies, cultural development, individual behavior and individual consciousness and values. The course will then enable students to experience and practice innovative leadership methods that can make a dramatic difference in their life and work. As an alternative to a "command and control" leadership style, innovative leadership is facilitative, participatory, collaborative, creative and profound. Four levels of innovative leadership will be experienced, enhanced and practiced:
physical/sensory capacities, psychological/historical capacities, mythic/symbolic capacities and unitive/intuitive capacities. UN program experience will be shared related to the role of innovative leadership in achieving the MDGs in Nepal, Albania, the Eastern Caribbean, Kenya and the Philippines.

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2017

Abstract

A Compassionate Civilization

We are at a turning point in the history of civilization. Anyone watching the news can understand why. Our generation faces the challenges of global warming, misogyny, racism, systemic poverty, oligarchy, and more. Some believe that this will lead to a kind of fascist, environmentally ruined dystopia. Robertson Work, who has spent decades working in poverty-stricken villages and developing countries, does not believe all hope is lost.

In this revolutionary guide, Work uses his experiences with the United Nations and organizations and communities across the globe to outline the fundamentals of a compassionate civilization. He argues that it is urgent to change the way we think about society and proposes six areas of transformation to focus on:

  • environmental sustainability

  • gender equality

  • socioeconomic justice

  • cultural tolerance

  • participatory governance

  • nonviolence

Each of these six foundations is necessary to form the compassionate civilization Work envisions. In addition to the theoretical themes of such a society, Work shares effective leadership methods to help make this dream a reality as a movement of movements and as global-local citizens. He encourages you to become more aware of problems and possibilities around you and practice empathetic, effective social activism and care for self and others.

Anyone can make a difference. Work shows you exactly where to begin.