Acumen Essentials I: Moral Imagination

Acumen Essentials I: Moral Imagination

Acumen Essentials I: Intro to Moral Imagination & Challenges in Poverty Alleviation

This is a 6-week introductory course that will take you through a variety of materials Acumen has designed to train leaders who wish to change the way the world tackles poverty, and build a world based on dignity. This course is for beginners, new to the social impact space and interested in learning more about entrepreneurial approaches to poverty alleviation.

Acumen’s definition of leadership starts with moral imagination: the humility to see the world as it is, and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be.

Course participants will begin by further developing their personal leadership skills, cultivate more self-awareness, and discover their own style to leadership, through the lens of moral imagination. This includes exercises that ask you to dig deep and share personal stories, experiences and opinions.

While we’ll touch on the Acumen investment model, this isn’t an in-depth course on Acumen’s investment work. We’ll be providing a variety of material intended to make you think, question, discuss, and debate what it means to lead positive change. This is a course based on discovery, so we’ll be scratching the surface on new concepts, with the opportunity to go more in-depth in some of our other courses. And while there are no ‘right answers’, prepare to be challenged!

The course is free and you must work through it with a group (min: 2 people; max: 6).
Form groups on your own, or once the course begins you can find a group.

You'll Love This Course If You:

  • are curious about Acumen’s leadership training programs (ie. The Global Fellows Program) and want to get a taste
  • are on a path of self-discovery and want a platform to learn and explore your own values, motivations and goals for how you want to impact the world
  • are just curious, open-minded, and thirsty for a new personal challenge
  • enjoy pushing yourself to think in new ways around the work of poverty alleviation
  • want to connect with like-minded individuals on a similar journey
  • wish to gain exposure to new things and perhaps try out new skills

How the Course Works

There are no in-person teachers or facilitators for this course. You will work through the course with a group of course mates we call your “lab group”.

You can read through this curriculum on your own, but it won’t be any fun. The real learning happens face to face, person to person, when you challenge yourself and those around you. We recommend a group size of 2-6 people.

No group?
1. Recruit your friends or family
2. Connect with people at an existing meetup or start one in your city!

Course content consists of readings, online videos, discussions, and hands-on activities. Each week, you’ll receive an email with the materials for the upcoming week’s lab. The materials will consist of two things:

  • Lab prep (1-2 hours): To be completed before your lab group meets
  • Lab guide (typically 2 hours): To be completed together with the rest of your lab group when you meet. Upon completing each lab

At Acumen, we believe in “learning by doing”. You will get as much out of this course as you put in. There is much about this course that will seem challenging, which is appropriate since this is about leadership development. You will need to be self-motivated to make it through all 6-weeks. Some of the exercises are designed to push you out of your comfort zone. You will need to build relationships with your lab group and conduct meaningful discussions with no clear authority in the room.

Course Outline

The course is designed to run for 6-weeks; each week covers a different Acumen leadership module, except for Lab 4 which takes 2 weeks.

Lab 1: Foundations of Leadership & Moral Imagination
Objectives: Become familiar with the lab format for this course, get to know your lab group, dive deeper into your personal values, motivation and purpose for taking this course as well as Acumen’s view on leadership.

Prep time: 1 hour
Lab time: 1.5 hours

Lab 2: How to Do Good?
Objectives: Discuss and reflect on the different perspectives and complexities around “doing good”.

Prep time: 1.5 hours
Lab time: 2 hours

Lab 3: Acumen in Context
Objectives: Understand Acumen’s investment model and where it stands in the international development discourse of the past, present and future.

Prep time: 2 hours
Lab time: 2 hours

Lab 4: Everyday Barriers
Objectives: Exercise empathy and experience what it takes to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their situation, feelings and motives.

Prep time: 4 hours
Lab time: 1 hour

Lab 5: Adaptive Leadership and You
Objectives: Understand the difference between adaptive and technical challenges; begin to get a feel for what it takes to face internal resistance while implementing changes; reflect on a personal adaptive challenge and the over-all course.

Prep time: 1 hour
Lab time: 2 hours


Is this course just for +Acumen chapter members?

No, this course is open to both chapter and non-chapter members interested in the course and prepared to commit 4-5 hours per week to it.

Do my group members need to be in the same location?

We recommend signing up with a group that is all physically located in the same place. Much of the value of this course derives from the face to face learning that happens between group members. With that said, we have had groups cover many of the labs over Skype or Google+ hangout so it is possible to have a remote group.

Is there a set class schedule each week?

No, we set the schedule regarding what topic to cover each week but you are free to review the prep material and meet with your group within each week whenever it is convenient for you and your group. So it’s a good idea to consider all your availability when forming a group.


Will a certificate be awarded upon completion of the course?

The course is really for you and your own personal development; therefore, you will get as much out of this course as you put in.  With that said, we will provide a Statement of Accomplishment for individuals that complete all 6 weeks of the course and complete all the required participation surveys.

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