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TLS Program


TLS Workshops

The desire to make positive change is a global and expansive sensibility. The ability to actually do it takes skill and real knowledge. Congruence with the liberal arts curriculum which deeply problematizes human relations and human rights is paramount in TLS. We encourage critical thinkers, capable of nuanced articulation, who also have the capacity to act ferociously. Authenticity matters. Self reflection including self scrutiny matters. Every one of these workshops and trainings includes an exploratory moments of personal history and values.

Public Speaking

The ability to tell our story is crucial to all change work, and every TLS student studies and practices public speaking. Topics include, historical origins of rhetoric, body awareness, construction of a talk including the appropriate level of detail and sequencing, use of the voice both conceptually and physically.

Meaning Making

Based on the thinking of John Dewey, every TLS student spends a semester or a year in a meaning making process. The cycle is observation-question asking-action-reflection-observation etc. It is a systematic approach to identifying how our own histories and values play out in the work we choose.


Knowing when and what to write is crucial. We explore description, opinion, essay, and lede. We refine the writing of acknowledgments, brochures, fundraising letters, business letters and grants.


Without brow beating and guilt-tripping, we reckon honestly with issues of race, class, orientation, age, able bodiedness and so on. These workshops are full of honest talk, honest reflection, readings from unfamiliar sources, and open conversations with a wide range of people.

Team Building and Group Facilitation

These are hugely complex topics which we discuss collectively and individually. The workshops involve reading, exploratory personal writing, group debriefing, and personal reflection. Topics include clarifying mission, identifying stakeholders, creating the rules of engagement, decision-making procedures, dividing work by function rather than hierarchy, building agendas, brainstorming, debriefing, conducting a meeting, interrupting with grace.

Empathic Speech

Creating relationships that work requires basic understanding of interpersonal communication. There are many basic principles of human engagement that are simply not common practice. We pull communication apart and deal with options for action, active listening and turn taking, valuing empathy and witnessing, the T-Group Rules, understanding multiple kinds of conversations, I-statements, NVC principles.


Power is at work everywhere at all times, that’s what it means to be alive on the planet. Coming to terms with power, so that we neither abuse it or cower to it is essential for ethical and effective change agents. We study and practice status work, the relationship of power and information, invisible and visible structures of power, and the implicit and explicit nature power.

Ethics of "Service" and Leadership Styles

We are always examining our own motives for action, this is part of the meaning making process, and essential for people acting strongly in the world. There are certainly many effective ways to lead. The point is for each TLS student to identify and nurture their strengths, and unflinchingly address places of weakness. We also explore the notion of human rights and the meaning of “community”, “service” and “engagement”.