ppl - Public Purpose Leadership program - PDU1003

From a climate “code red” and a global pandemic to declining biodiversity and rising inequality, recent times have been tough on everyone.

And that’s particularly true for those working towards the common good and a better future (what we call public purpose). Perhaps now, more than ever, it is the time to slow down, take stock and ask how we can best lead and influence change.

The ‘Public Purpose Leadership (ppl) in disrupted times’ program is an opportunity for changemakers to regroup, reconnect and refocus. The world needs leaders who are at their best in all aspects of their lives. Leaders who are authentic, driven by a purpose, and aren’t afraid to face the most challenging questions of today.

The program is a 5-week facilitated online journey that will provide you with strategies and practices to develop the resilience and agility needed to stay the course in uncertain times.

Through engaging and evidence-backed workshops, where experiential learning and personal reflection are at the core, the ‘ppl in disrupted times’ will help you craft your vision forward and have you feeling refocused and inspired to meet the year ahead.

On completion of the program, you’ll walk away with:
- Greater clarity on your own unique capabilities and how to use your passion and strengths to contribute to the common good
- New tools, frameworks and practices to support you as leader in an uncertain present and future
- A strong network of supportive change makers and leaders you can rely on for support
- Guidance from leading MSDI experts, and access to the official MSDI Alumni group on LinkedIn
- You can expect to walk away feeling inspired, motivated and recharged and ready to bring your best self to what you do.


Week 1 - Setting the scene - ‘A meaningful contribution’

Begin by exploring what leadership means to you and how, in these disrupted times, you can achieve a rich and meaningful purpose.

Week 2 - Exploring Leadership

Assess where you are as a leader and, by studying various leadership styles and frameworks, explore what you need to develop into the change maker you want to be.

Week 3 - Balance, Burnout and Wellbeing

Explore ways to build resilience and manage your personal and professional self to ensure you can be the most effective leader.

Week 4 - Creating Change - ‘staying the course’

Build networks and explore strategies to continue leading for change in the face of escalating challenges.

Week 5 - Visioning forwards

Be guided through strategies to design your leadership future and take your next steps in following your public-purpose career.


ppl is facilitated by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, led by our Deputy Director (Education) Associate Professor Annette Bos and our Learning Design and Facilitation Specialist Aaron Densham.


The program is designed for participants to collaborate, engage and interact. The small cohort size provides a more intimate context for learning and gaining personal insights.

Bring a renewed focus to how you lead and influence for change Be equipped with a new mindset and refreshed toolset
Develop a vision to stay the course – both professionally and personally Connect with fellow leaders who are working on similar mission-driven goals


Are you committed to making a difference in the world - in social change, socially-responsible business, education, politics or the public service? We invite participants who are influencing change in a variety of ways and encourage a diversity of professional backgrounds, lived experience, learning styles, and personality types. The course is best suited to people who have 5-10 years of work experience.


The ppl program builds on the legacy of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership (CSL). After transforming the careers of more than 700 people with its award-winning courses, CSL closed its doors in December 2018. Since taking the reins from CSL, MSDI undertook a review of the program and introduced the revamped Public Purpose Leadership (ppl) program. Due to the pandemic, the launch of ppl’s in-person program was put on hold in 2020.

To adapt to these uncertain times, MSDI has designed a tailored version of ppl called ‘ppl in disrupted times’. The past 18 months have created incredible challenges for those working towards the common good – the public purpose. It has left many of us feeling burnt out, tired and rundown. ppl in disputed times offers an opportunity for people to come together and pause, reflect and recharge.


  1. Is ppl in disrupted times formally accredited? No, but participants will receive a certificate of completion from MSDI.
  2. Will I be required to complete activities between the online workshops? Participants are expected to complete some preparatory work for the live online workshops. It is estimated this would require a commitment of 1-2-hour each week, in addition to the live sessions.
  3. What platforms will be used?
    Participants will need to be able to use Zoom to access the live online workshops. Access to the pre-workshop requirements will be made through Monash University’s learning platform, Moodle.
  4. Can I apply for the broader ppl program next year ?
    Yes, the ‘ppl in disrupted times’ has been designed to address the leadership context of ‘right now’ while the full ppl course, which is set to take place in 2022, will provide a broader and more intensive experience.
Show more

Cost: $1,980 (incl. GST)

We look for applicants who have the potential to influence change in a variety of ways, and intentionally recruit for a wide cross-section of skills and experience.

We encourage a high degree of diversity of professional backgrounds, industry insights, learning styles, and personality types.

The course is best suited to people who have 5-10 years of work experience

Alumni of the program include:

  • Partners in global consulting firms and leading law firms
  • Members of state parliament and local government councillors
  • Award winning entrepreneurs
  • Impact investment professionals
  • Directors in city, state and federal governments
  • Senior academics and researchers
  • Founders and CEOs of leading non-profit organisations
  • Variety of other roles in business, government and non-profits.

MSDI is an interdisciplinary institute at Monash University – Australia’s largest university. We look for innovative ways to address some of the biggest environmental, economic and social problems facing our world. We do this by developing relevant knowledge, applying evidence to practice, building capacity to implement solutions and convening impactful partnerships. All of our work focuses on the interconnected challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Public Purpose Leadership program now form part of MSDI’s Sustainable Development Education program that has been expanding rapidly over the last few years. We co-run the award winning Master of Environment and Sustainability degree where we lead a ‘leadership for sustainable development’ specialisation. In the Monash Business School, we offer one undergraduate and two post-graduate units and teach into the Monash MBA. We also run various Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) programs, both online and in-person. Our longest running education program is Green Steps, an award-winning sustainability leadership program for students which, since 2000, has trained more than a thousand students.

MSDI ppl builds on the legacy of the programs from the Centre for  Sustainability Leadership (CSL). In 2018, following a competitive process,  CSL selected MSDI to take carriage of the Centre’s programs. Announcing the decision, Alex Graham, Co Chair of the Centre for  Sustainability Leadership and an alumnus of the Future Makers program, said  that the powerful process of personal and professional experiential  learning, focused on leadership for sustainability, that the Centre  launched 13 years ago, was still just as important today. “With a network  of over 700 empowered alumni, the evolution of CSL’s programs at MSDI will  facilitate the emergence of the next generation of supportive learning  opportunities.”

The Centre for Sustainability Leadership officially closed its doors to the  public on 21 December 2018.

There is a strong historical connection between MSDI, Green Steps and CSL. CSL founder Larissa Brown participated in the Green Steps program in 2004  where she met Jason Clarke. This sparked the idea for a training and  incubation program targeted at emerging leaders in the sustainability  space. Larissa was supported by MSDI (then known as Monash Environment  Institute) to germinate and grow her idea into the inaugural Future  Environmental Leaders (FEL) program. Expanded partnerships and financial  backing over the following years saw the program become independent of  MSDI, and the non-profit organisation CSL was formed to run the annual  Leadership Program. In remembering that idea first took shape within MSDI’s  Green Steps Program, Jason Clarke, one of the originators of CSL, said  “this feels like a homecoming to me.”

The original Future Environment Leaders program, was an eight-month  program, providing participants with important skills for leadership —  including media, lobbying and creative thinking. The program objective was  to create real and systemic change through authentic leadership. Over 13 years, CSL staff have modified and adapted the program content and  delivery format in conjunction with experts, to better meet emerging needs,  whilst maintaining core design principles In 2009 the program was extended to Sydney and renamed the Fellowship  program and in 2018 renamed again to the Future Makers Fellowship (FMF). From 2013, a range of tailored programs, typically sponsored by a by a  specific organisation, were also introduced.

Since taking carriage of CSL’s programs, MSDI have engaged in a systematic  process to redevelopment the program. We introduced the revamped program –  Public Purpose Leadership – in December 2019.