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Barclay Hudson, EdD
Faculty, Human & Organizational Development
Santa Monica, CA

my story

Thirteen years ago, I helped start the Fielding OMD master’s program, and I’m still here after several careers spanning academics, public and private sectors, and nonprofits. My earlier work comprised 5-10 years in each of several fields: environmental sciences (UCLA, Cal Poly Pomona); industrial engineering (aerospace and defense); urban planning (UCLA, the United Nations, the Ford Foundation, USAID, and the Universidad Católica de Chile); and economic studies on ROI for health and education (Harvard University, UCLA).

I’m currently working with Fielding students in coursework ranging from sustainability leadership (people, profit, and planet) to action research; chaos/complexity theory applied to leadership; and a course on “good work, meaningful work.” One of my major current interests is critical assessment of the quality of data from research literature, apart from the use of statistical tests. Elsewhere, some favorite projects have been bicycle freeways (technical, economic and social feasibility studies) and urban forestry (which offers a remarkably high ROI in most places).

I live in Santa Monica with my wife of 46 years, and our two sons and twin grand-daughters live not far away. I’ve been doing power yoga since 1995 and A favorite book is Martin Rees’ superb description of where we all come from in such an improbable way, “Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces ….” And my religion happens to be just six words, formulated by my son Sean: “Have fun, work hard, be kind.”

Interests and Expertise

  • Complexity theory
  • Action research
  • Sustainability leadership
  • Organizational design and evaluation
  • Environmental economics

Why Fielding?

In the 1990’s I met a faculty member of Fielding’s School of HOD, Peter Park, who said, “You should get to know the people at Fielding.” I did just that and was later invited to help design the OMD curriculum. When asked to join in the teaching of it, I thought no way, it’s a great curriculum, but teaching it online is going to be a shallow and impersonal, a cookie-cutter delivery system. How wrong I was. This turns out to be the most intimate teaching/learning process I’ve ever experienced. That partly comes from the collaborative approach to learning in small groups, and the rich and varied experience of our students (practitioners from many academic and professional backgrounds). Part comes from the practice of asking students to share experiences and compare/contrast that practice with theories and case studies from the literature. A major reason it works so well is Fielding’s emphasis on building around the strengths that students bring with them, feeding their intellectual curiosity, and challenging them to go farther. The process lets us weave our conversational voice—the voice of experience, risk-taking, fun, and irony—with the academic voice of critique, questioning, and challenging the experts. One outcome not anticipated in our curriculum design efforts is often related by students at graduation: “This program helped me find my voice.”

Advice to Prospective Students

What you get out of any experience is how you frame it. Take risks, and role-play to the hilt the widest possible range of different stakeholders, different ways of knowing, and different methods for attacking a research problem. (Role-playing—do you think that’s not the authentic you? On the contrary, it’s how you choose the self you are becoming. “Authentic” means “self-authoring”—creating the self, and not just becoming what others expect.) Use binocular vision—poetry and statistics, classic experiments and phenomenology, economic logic and social psychology, action research and Buddhist reflection. In an academic project, shift gears from broad exploration to sharp focus, driving deep, like the point of a thumb-tack. Have the discipline to formulate testable hypotheses, but be ready to learn the most when the evidence says something unexpected. Information consists of surprise.

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