Connectivity and Collectivity in a Doctoral Cohort Program: An Academic Memoir in Five Parts

  • Shauna Butterwick University of British Columbia
  • Jeanie Cockell Independent
  • Joan McArthur-Blair Independent
  • Sandy MacIver Royal Roads University
  • Jennifer Rodrigues Independent
Keywords: cohorts, dialogue, shared leadership, appreciative and narrative inquiry


In this critical reflection, four doctoral graduates and one professor, all involved in a cohort-based educational leadership doctoral program, provide narratives about key processes and moments that contributed to building powerful connections and a collective orientation to the groups’ learning and success. Dialogic processes, conscious intention, and naming shared values were established early in the program by the cohort members enabling them to take ownership of their learning and to commit to the group’s collectivity and connectivity. We argue this cohort’s processes illustrate how shared and democratic leadership was not only a topic of discussion, it was also successfully enacted.

Dans cette réflexion critique, quatre titulaires d’un doctorat et un professeur, tous impliqués dans un programme de troisième cycle sur le leadership éducationnel et reposant sur une cohorte, présentent des récits portant sur les procédés et les moments clés qui ont contribué à la création de liens puissants et une orientation collective visant l’apprentissage et la réussite du groupe. Les membres de la cohorte ont établi, dès le début du programme, des procédés dialogiques, une intention consciente et l’identification de valeurs partagées, ce qui leur a permis de s’approprier leur apprentissage et de s’engager dans la cohésion et la connectivité du groupe. Nous soutenons que les procédés de cette cohorte illustrent dans quelle mesure un leadership partagé et démocratique n’est pas resté seulement un sujet de discussion, mais a été en fait mis sur pied.

Author Biographies

Shauna Butterwick, University of British Columbia

Shauna Butterwick ( is an Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia, whose research interests include adult women’s learning, particularly informal and nonformal, including social movement learning and arts-based pedagogy and research.

Jeanie Cockell, Independent

Jeanie Cockell ( is a facilitator who specializes in collaboratively designing strategies for individuals, groups and organizations to surface their wisdom in order to build positive futures and to respond effectively to change.

Joan McArthur-Blair, Independent

Joan McArthur-Blair (, former college president, brings over 20 years of leadership experience in higher education, faculty development, international projects, women in development, and the mentorship and education of other leaders.

Sandy MacIver, Royal Roads University

Sandy MacIver ( is an organizational and leadership consultant and former Rhodes Scholar. He taught at the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University as a lecturer/contractor for 22 and 5 years respectively.

Jennifer Rodrigues, Independent

Jennifer Rodrigues ( is a psychotherapist, Educator & Mindfulness Trainer, and author of Presence, Clarity and the Space of Receptivity in Counselling.