Katie Garcia Launches Two New Electives at Columbia Engineering

In March and April 2024, Logos Institute Senior Fellow Katie Garcia launched two new electives for graduate students at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, also known as Columbia Engineering.

The first elective, Communicating Up: How Get Buy-in and Win the Trust of Your Boss, is focused on how to communicate effectively up-the-chain of command at work.

Effective communication can build a person’s competitive advantage in the workplace, particularly when it comes to communicating with the boss. When we communicate effectively with the boss, we can not only get our big ideas considered, but also earn the boss’s trust. However, when we fail to communicate effectively with the boss, not only will our big ideas never be considered, but we can harm our standing and reputation at work.

In Communicating Up, students learned about the power of communication in the workplace, core principles of effective communication, how to recognize what matters to the boss, and a method for effectively giving advice or presenting an opportunity effectively to the boss.

The second elective, Difficult Conversations in the Workplace, is focused on how to effectively navigate difficult conversations at work.

Difficult conversations are inevitable in our personal and professional lives. However, how we navigate these difficult conversations at work can have a significant impact on our growth and success in our career, as well as on our teams and our workplace overall. Therefore, we need to take these conversations seriously.

In this class, students learned why difficult conversations are so challenging and strategies for overcoming that difficulty. Students also learned what it takes to provoke a change of behavior within people, how structure feedback effectively, and how to effectively prepare for, initiate, and navigate through a difficult conversation.

Both electives were offered to students enrolled in Columbia Engineering’s Professional Development & Leadership (PDL) program. The PDL program’s goal is to enhance the Columbia Engineering education by providing enrichment and development opportunities to undergraduate, MS, and PhD engineering students.

More than 40 graduate engineering students enrolled in the electives Katie taught this semester. Some have already begun apply the lessons learned in these courses and to think through how they could continue to apply these lessons as they build their careers.