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In Pursuit of Business Education for Justice

October 30, 2017
By: Dr. Rose Sebastianelli, Professor of Operations and Information Management and Alperin Endowed Chair in Business Administration, University of Scranton
Originally published in October 2017 Connections, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

 What does it mean to be a Jesuit business school? What role should business faculty play in fostering Jesuit ideals? What are the objectives of a mission-inspired project in teaching? How can the scholarly output of business faculty contribute to the Jesuit mission?

These were some of the questions examined by a small group of faculty in the Kania School of Management (KSOM) at the University of Scranton, who took part in the Business Education for Justice Seminar, which I organized and led with support from the University’s Jesuit Center and the KSOM dean, Michael Mensah, Ph.D., as the “capstone project” for the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP).

Inspiration from the Ignatian Colleagues Program
Under the auspices of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), ICP is an 18-month program “designed to educate and form administrators and faculty more deeply in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition of higher education.” It includes online workshops, reflection papers, seminars and an immersion trip to the United States / Mexico border through the KINO Border Initiative. ICP concludes with a “capstone experience” in which participants plan projects for advancing mission on their own campuses.

Participating in the ICP motivated me, a full professor with almost 30 years of service to Scranton, to understand more fully the Ignatian tradition and consider the ways in which it could (and should) impact my work going forward. In addition to providing a Jesuit-inspired education to students, I wanted to ensure Ignatian values would be passed onto future generations. This would require collaboration with colleagues to create a critical mass of KSOM faculty committed to fulfilling the Jesuit mission through the “service of faith and promotion of justice.” I wanted to exploit the “multiplier” effect so that Ignatian values could be shared as broadly as possible, with colleagues, students, alumni and the business community. I also wanted to include newly-hired faculty with the potential to contribute to the Jesuit mission for many years to come. These goals informed the design of the Business Education for Justice Seminar.

Seminar included education, reflection and action
The Business Education for Justice Seminar involved three components. The first was educational, fostering a deep understanding of Ignatian identity and the Jesuit tradition through carefully selected readings and guided discussion. The second was reflective, encouraging the exploration of what it means to be a Jesuit business school and the role of KSOM faculty in promoting Jesuit ideals. The third involved action, developing proposals to implement specific mission-inspired projects in teaching and/or research. The three intended outcomes impacting mission were: to deepen faculty commitment to the Jesuit identity of KSOM; to increase the coverage of mission-related content (e.g., Responsibility, Sustainability and Justice) in business courses; and to increase faculty scholarly output on research topics that challenge the business, academic and professional communities to consider society and the greater good.  

Read the rest of the article in AJCU's Connections, here.

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