Kimberlyn Leary Photo

Kimberlyn Leary

Associate Professor of Psychology, HMS; Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, HSPH


This course builds upon the framework offered in MLD-201 but focuses on the important role of authority in leading change and maintaining the viability of organizational life. By exploring the value, uses, as well as the abuses of authority relationships, we aim to expand one’s capacity to claim authority, exercise authority, use power wisely, and work with authority figures. To do so, we explore the valid and reasonable distrust in authority that exists among us and through history, and we investigate new ways of thinking and new modes of authoritative behavior that can repair, restore, and renew trust within organizations and communities. On one hand, the course provides new options for taking and exercising effective and trustworthy authority. On the other hand, we explore practices, strategies, and ways of operating from “below,” “behind,” or “outside” with the intent of expanding options for relating influentially and effectively with and against the grain of authorities.  In addition to lectures and discussions, the course is designed to enable students to learn from small study groups, weekly reflection papers, and case-in-point teaching – using the classroom process to understand the dynamics of authority relationships and the processes of conflict and change in social systems.

To learn more about co-instructor Kimberlyn Leary, please visit

Please note, while this course allows cross-registration, there will be minimal openings for non-HKS students.

MLD-201 is strongly recommended in preparation for this course.