Course Partner: Acumen


January 20, 2015


March 9, 2015


3 to 4

Group Size:

2 to 6

Acumen Essentials I: Intro to moral imagination and 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. 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 (ex. The Global Fellows Program) and want to get a taste
  • you 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
  • you are just curious, open-minded, and thirsty for a new personal challenge
  • you enjoy pushing yourself to think in new ways around the work of poverty alleviation
  • you want to connect with like-minded individuals on a similar journey
  • you wish to gain exposure to new things and perhaps try out new skills

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

How the Course Works

There are no in-person teachers or facilitators for this course.  We strongly encourage you to go through the course with a group of 2-5 other individuals.

Course content will consist of readings, online videos, and discussion activities.  Each week, you will receive an email with information on lectures and assignments.

How to form a group for this course

We believe that real learning happens face to face, person to person, when you challenge yourself and those around you.  To find group members, you can download this Course Overview and send it to your friends, colleagues, and others in your community to see if they’re interested in signing up with you.

We recommend that you take the course with members who are physically close together and can meet up in person.  However, we have had groups do the exercises remotely over Skype or Google + hangouts and WhatsApp.

If you already have people to take this course with:

  • please make sure that each person in the group registers for the course by clicking on the “Register” button

If you are interested in taking the course but do not have a group yet, here are several options:

  1. If you are located in a city with a +Acumen chapter, please reach out to them to get connected to others.
  2. You can invite your colleagues, friends, family, and members in your community to take the course together.
  3. You can sign up for the course first, and then wait for the instructions provided during Week 1 to form a group/join a group online


Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a set class schedule each week?

We will send you course materials each week on Tuesday at 0:00 am PST.

However, you do not need to have a set weekly schedule to meet with your group. Your group can meet each week when it’s convenient for you.  However, we suggest forming groups where members have similar schedules/availability so that you can meet on a regular basis.

Will a certificate be awarded upon completion of the course?

We will provide a Statement of Accomplishment for individuals that complete all requirements.

More questions?

Please contact

Acumen's Leadership Model

Financial Skills

Operational Skills

Moral Imagination

Community Stories

  • Rhoda Omenya

    Kenya | "Acumen Essentials I: Intro to Moral Imagination and Challenges in Poverty Alleviation"

    Everlyn lived in Kibera, which was far from her new workplace, so she travelled far each morning to arrive for the morning shift. She had a chair, but it was broken and only had three legs, so she couldn’t sit comfortably…  

    Read More

View All Courses