HDFS 475 - Entrepreneurs and Leaders in Human Services

  • 3 credits

Skills and knowledge about leadership and entrepreneurship in areas pertinent to human development and family studies, as human services, non-profits, and other enterprises related to helping individuals, couples, and families.

The course will integrate two critical components for work in human services, non-profits, and enterprises related to helping individual, couples, and families: leadership and entrepreneurship. The first section of the course will discuss theory and research on leadership applied to professional communication and decision-making in human service settings. We will review personal and professional qualities essential for successful leadership and entrepreneurship. Roles, responsibilities, and ethical standards for professionals will be examined. The course will then transition to discuss an array of topics associated with social innovation and entrepreneurship, including defining the problem/opportunity, developing innovative solutions, planning a management and governance structure, building a funding strategy, defining a basic financial and operating structure, building partnerships and mobilizing resources, and assessing the impact of innovations.

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Create a leadership and entrepreneurial philosophy built on a perspective of global social innovation and cultural needs of diverse families, couples, and individuals in human service settings.
  • Synthesize leadership theory and research with self-identified areas of interest in human services.
  • Evaluate the practices of successful leaders and entrepreneurs in HDFS professions.
  • Summarize and defend attributes and practices of ethical leadership and entrepreneurship in HDFS professions.
  • Synthesize resources related to the leadership and entrepreneurship in HDFS, specifically related to creating partnerships, identifying financial resources, and securing funding.
  • Develop the skills necessary to become leaders in human services.
  • Assess the need for social innovation to address the systemic and developmental issues of individuals and families.
  • Explain and justify innovative solutions to difficult social problems around the world.
  • Accurately appraise the impact of innovation and human service enterprises.


HDFS 375 (Lifespan Intervention and Prevention Science); completion of 60 credits.

Important Information

All prerequisites must be completed or consent from the instructor given prior to enrollment.

If you register for this course after the start of the term, please contact the instructor at the time of registration. By contacting the instructor, you ensure you are added to the CANVAS section as soon as possible and have access to the course and details about the class requirements.

Textbooks and Materials

View a list of required textbooks.

Access to video equipment is necessary for uploading videos (e.g., webam and microphone).


Katie Gerst
Katie Gerst


Dr. Katie Gerst is an Assistant Professor in the Human Development and Family Studies Department at CSU. She is also a Certified Family Life Educator through the National Council on Family Relations. Dr. Gerst has extensive teaching experience both on-campus and from a distance, having taught her first resident instruction class in 2008. She has been at CSU since 2018, but previously taught at Baker College in Michigan, Texas Tech University, and Northern Illinois University. Dr. Gerst’s scholarly interests include gender and power dynamics in romantic relationships, maternal mental health, and the scholarship of teaching and learning in family science.

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