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Scholar Level 1 certification in Adaptive Leadership for immunization

The Sabin Vaccine Institute in partnership with The Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF) and Adaptive Change Advisors (ACA) invites applications for the second cohort of the Scholar Level 1 Certification Course on Adaptive Leadership .

The Sabin Vaccine Institute is organizing this course as part of its Boost Community, a global network of immunization professionals.

By joining this course, you are joining a network of nearly 200 Boost Scholar alumni.

What they said about this course

“My mindset about leadership has changed. I have now realized that leadership is not necessarily authority but the ability to mobilize people to solve a problem.”

“I learnt the true meaning of leadership, what it entails and how it should be. This helped in changing my mindset a lot for the better. I will use what I learned to improve my team on strategizing and making the best decisions for our support for the immunization system.”


Applications are now closed. You are encouraged to express your interest in future offerings of this course.

Find people, events, groups and resources that can help you grow in your career

Boost is building a world where immunization professionals are empowered to grow and lead in their careers and accelerate change in their communities.

The Boost community is designed to empower its members with the connections, support and resources needed to navigate and lead in challenging contexts and expand networks around the world.

Join BOOST now
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Vaccines save lives. We can be proud of our work every day.

And we shall not rest until all people receive the vaccines they need, when they need them. But…

  • Who will find new strategies to reach the unreached?
  • Who will make the difference to strengthen vaccinator and manager skills?
  • Who will make the case for better-targeted operational funding?
  • Who will challenge the status quo in the midst of an outbreak?

Who will challenge the status quo in the midst of an outbreak?

You can make a difference.

We work every day and do what we can. But can we call ourselves leaders?
If you wait for those with authority to lead, you may wait a long time.

Leadership is about everyday change that adds up to consequential change.

Adaptive leadership is about pushing the boundaries to make a difference.

Does this sound familiar?

“We have to lobby at all levels to get what we need. As county nurses, we try to talk to the county health assembly to convince them of what we need. We try to prepare our arguments and data carefully. Sometimes they listen to us, but most times they do not take our inputs.” – A Public Health Nurse, County EPI focal point, Narok, Kenya

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Woman making the case with body language

Think about a challenge you are facing in your work.

  • Does it involve change?
  • Are your colleagues, your boss, partners, or the communities you serve reluctant to change?
  • Do they find change threatening or scary?
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Are you facing a challenge like this one?

“Immunization professionals’ lives are about reacting to what’s on their desks. Immunization professionals are at the mercy of their managers. Immunization professionals are not able to drive priorities in their own work.” – An Immunization Implementing Partner

Are you ready to step up and lead change?

This six-week learning journey will convene immunization professionals from all over the world who wish to tackle challenges together:

  • using the proven Scholar package of interventions used since 2016 by immunization teams in 90 countries;
  • drawing on 'Adaptive Leadership', a powerful approach developed at Harvard University that encourages everyone to lead consequential change; and
  • becoming immunization ‘change-makers’ who seek to continue learning and growing after the course.

This course is not for everybody. It is for people working in immunization who are yearning to make a difference – but who know that forging headfirst is unlikely to lead anywhere.

What is adaptive leadership?

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How can adaptive leadership help you? 

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Over the past decade, Eric Martin has brought leadership development to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in 146 countries. Here is how he explains it:

“Adaptive Leadership involves motivating people to tackle problems without known solutions – what are known as adaptive challenges. With adaptive challenges, there won’t be a simple fix. Addressing these challenges demands time, learning and a shift in the way people think.

When working on the problem makes people feel uncomfortable, or when moving forward feels risky, it’s a good sign that what you’re facing calls for Adaptive Leadership. Adaptive Leadership is not a personality trait nor a title. It’s a moment, a choice, that presents itself to everyone everyday.”

Is this course for you?

You stand to benefit from this course if…

  • you face challenges in your immunization work that have defied past attempts to solve them
  • you need to mobilize other people and do not have sufficient power or authority to compel them
  • you need to lead during times of uncertainty or ambiguity in your immunization context
  • you welcome new ways to connect, lead and learn with fellow practitioners from all over the world.

You do not need to have existing management positions or titles to qualify.

Female immunization professionals are especially encouraged to apply.

Sabin Vaccine Institute
Adaptive Change Advisors

Faculty for this course

Bruce Gellin

Bruce Gellin

President, Global Immunization, Sabin Vaccine Institute.

Jenny Fluder

Jen Siler

Director of Global Community Engagement at Sabin Vaccine Institute. 

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Eric Martin

Managing Director at Adaptive Change Advisors (ACA).

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Nqobizitha Ndlovu

Leadership Advisor at Adaptive Change Advisors (ACA).  


The peer learning process will be facilitated by the Scholar Team from The Geneva Learning Foundation.

Meet Ngobizitha Ndlovu


What will you gain?

  1. Become a member of the Boost global community – a diverse network of over 1,000 immunization professionals.
  2. Develop the mindsets and behaviors you need to become an adaptive leader and tackle the complex challenges you face in your immunization context.
  3. Connect with a global community committed to improving immunization.
  4. Learn from your peers through both formal and informal dialogue as well as giving and receiving feedback.
  5. Compare and share best leadership practices with fellow practitioners and global experts from the Boost community.
  6. Earn a Scholar certificate from The Geneva Learning Foundation and the Sabin Vaccine Institute to demonstrate your learning and practice toward adaptive leadership.
  7. Develop your digital skills to collaborate and learn remotely.

“This was a great opportunity for me to learn adaptive leadership. I enjoyed the video tutorials, daily balcony calls and mandatory weekly discussion group.”

Course schedule

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November 16–20 2020

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November 23–27 2020

6 weeks of peer intensive learning

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Week 1

November 30–December 4, 2020

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Week 2

December 7–11, 2020

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Week 3

December 14–18, 2020

Term Break

December 19, 2020–January 3, 2021

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Week 4

January 4–8, 2021

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Week 5

January 11–15, 2021

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Week 6

January 18–22, 2021

An evidence-based package of interventions to support your learning

This course will use the Scholar package, a set of interventions developed by the Geneva Learning Foundation to support effective learning for global health and humanitarian work.

  • This package draws on evidence-based action and applied learning, leadership acceleration, mentoring, and collaborative methodologies.
  • It has been used successfully by the Geneva Learning Foundation and its partners in over 50 courses and programmes.

How will we learn in this course?

Participants in this course will be ‘peers’ because they work in the same field and are interested in the course topic. Most people recognize that adult learners can learn from each other through ‘peer learning’.

  • Effective practice of peer learning, however, requires un-learning much of what has been ingrained over years of schooling.
  • We have internalized the conviction that significant learning requires expert feedback.
    In this course:
  • You will discover how much you can learn from your peers by giving and receiving feedback in many different ways.
  • You will learn to trust and support colleagues in the course – and discover that this can greatly strengthen your own learning.
  • You will likely need to challenge your assumptions about how you learn in order to succeed in this course.

You may be skeptical about how much you can learn from other participants – given that you do not know their expertise or experience.

  • Learning, however, is about problem-solving and critical thinking – not just knowledge.
  • We ask that you trust the process – and expect to initially find yourself outside your comfort zone until you have experienced a moment of significant learning.

"Peer learning was one of my favorite aspects as I get to learn from others’ perspectives of challenges as we are cut across the globe."

How will I know how I am doing – and where I need to improve?

The course will offer you many ways to receive guidance, support, and feedback from its faculty, who will provide guidance when and if it is needed.

  • We are used to receiving feedback when sitting knee-to-knee with colleagues in a room or face-to-face in a video or phone call.
  • In this course, you will discover that there are many other ways to receive feedback.
  • Consider that the ways that are least familiar to you may in fact be the most effective, once you get used to them.

Here are some examples:

  • Rather than asking the faculty to review individual assignments, we will be entrusting course participants to evaluate each other’s work using structured peer review .
  • When the course community is connected at the same time online, we will listen to short presentations by participants and everyone will be able to give constructive feedback.
  • Faculty will share guidance, support, and feedback that you can access at any time – and you are expected to think about what these mean for your own work.
  • You will also be able to ask questions at any time – and receive answers from both faculty and peers.

Technical requirements

Applicants are responsible for ensuring that they are able to meet the following requirements.

  • Information technology: You will need to access the course web site on a regular basis (preferably every day). Participants need to have access to a reliable Internet connection and a standards-based browser less than two years old (Firefox, Safari, or Chrome). Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge users will be asked to use a standards-based browser for the course.
  • Specific guidance will be provided to those who have bandwidth limitations, intermittent access, or may suffer from disruption of their connection to the Internet.
  • Language: The language of the course is English. Participants are encouraged to schedule extra time if they are not fully proficient writing in the course language.

Honor code

The Scholar community is devoted to learning and the creation of knowledge. We view integrity as the basis for meaningful collaboration. We thus hold honesty – in the representation of our work and in our interactions – as the foundation of our community.
Members of the Scholar community commit themselves to producing course work of integrity – that is, work that adheres to the scholarly and intellectual standards of accurate attribution of sources, appropriate collection and use of data, and transparent acknowledgement of the contribution of others to their ideas, discoveries, interpretations, and conclusions. Cheating on assignments or projects, plagiarizing or misrepresenting the ideas or language of someone else as one’s own, falsifying data, or any other instance of dishonesty violates the standards of our community, as well as the standards of the wider world of immunization.
Scholar course participants are required to adhere to a strict Honor Code. Violation of the Honor Code may result in removal from the course, loss of certification (including prior Scholar certificates), and notification of your employer.


Participants should expect to:

  • Dedicate at least 6-8 hours per week to course work and supporting your peers.
  • Participate remotely in the weekly, 60-minute group discussion that will take place online once a week, (Recordings of these sessions will be made available for those who are unable to attend for valid reasons.)
  • Complete activities that have been divided into short daily tasks intended to be completed in 30 minutes.

Each set of course activities must be completed within a given week. Participants may schedule their work at any time during the week, except for the weekly group session which is scheduled at a fixed day and time each week. (Those unable to attend for a legitimate reason will be asked to view the recording and complete a catch-up task.) 


Upon successful completion of the course and following validation of your final project and assignments by the course team, you will receive a certificate of completion issued by The Geneva Learning Foundation and the Sabin Vaccine Institute.

  • Each certificate is valid for a duration of three years.
  • Certificate holders agree to show upon request a portfolio of their work that includes the project(s) produced in Scholar.

Research and evaluation

The Sabin Vaccine Institute and The Geneva Learning Foundation may review projects developed by Scholars and may consider some of them for use in their communication, advocacy and training effort. You will be asked for consent in your application.
Learners may also be invited to participate in research and evaluation by the Geneva Learning Foundation and its research partners. Participation in this research is completely voluntary, and you may stop taking part at any time. In cases where learners do not consent, no learner data will be collected. Participation or non-participation will have no effect on assessment of your performance in the course or your present or future relationship with the organizations involved.