In the fourth week of July, we celebrated online the 10th anniversary of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business at De La Salle University. This celebration felt a bit surreal to me; after all, the pandemic is still here. A year and a half of teaching online, faculty, students and administrators have struggled with unstable internet connections, dealing with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), and caring for our well-being. Nevertheless, there is still reason to keep faith and hope. Choppy internet connections should not stop our drive for authentic learning and community building.
With this premise, I realize that an effective response to the pandemic should be more than "restarting," Instead, the pandemic can be an opportunity for a "great renewal." In business and management education, this means: setting social and ecological outcomes as the primary goals of business; framing education as a platform for both learning and facilitating relationships; and rethinking higher education pedagogy.
Drawing from my students' reflections and our dialogues, it is refreshing to see how they've begun framing business as not mere profit generators, but rather, platforms for pursuing social and ecological outcomes. The pandemic illustrated how businesses could be vital mechanisms of providing essential material goods and other forms of integral human development. It is inspiring to hear students ask better questions. From asking "how can we maximize profits and how can we be more efficient and productive?", their inquiries have become: "How can business retain employees despite the community quarantines? How can we not only learn, but rather, authentically apply business principles to engage stakeholders of businesses, nonprofits, student organizations, and faith-based organizations?" I feel energized and challenged. I acknowledge that I do not hold the answers (come to think of it, who truly knows the correct answers in today's context?). Adopting action learning and action research approaches have allowed us to tackle these real-world issues collaboratively.
The online learning environment highlighted the need for what we may have been taking for granted: human connections and social interactions in classes and the university. My students have clamored to use synchronous class sessions as opportunities not for lectures but for bonding with their peers. My insight is that being an educator is not just facilitating knowledge; rather, an educator is also an architect of meta-learning and relationship-building in the virtual classroom. That means educators should be able to challenge students to inquire and understand but in group settings. In my experience, virtual breakout sessions and chat groups have helped facilitate both critical inquiry and community building in my classes.
Thus, we should rethink how we perform both management pedagogy and authentic assessments. Drawing from the 2016 article of Bruno Dyck and Nathan Greidanus, where they advocated the quantum sustainable organizing theory, business is unavoidably entangled with society. The principle of indeterminism means we can never fully predict the forces at play in our macroenvironment. Thus, can we genuinely control for success and failure? As educators, who are we to base our grades on whether student change projects achieve the desired outcomes when we cannot control every force at play? Perhaps the challenge is embracing a kind of pedagogy and assessment that puts a premium on the journey of experimentation and reflection rather than mere results. Management education should not incentivize gaming the results for grades; we should facilitate flow, meaning-making, creativity, meta-learning, insighting and frequent feedback. We should be more forgiving of failure borne from daring to innovate. We should refrain from overstating successful outcomes that may be due to luck rather than authentic learning. Grading these competencies may be more complex than standardized examinations. But the new normal does not care for people who get perfect scores in multiple-choice tests; the new normal rewards grit, resilience and the ability to perform meta-learning.
Perhaps this maxim was correct: it is the journey, not the destination. A Higher Power can only be the one to control fully whether we can achieve our desired outcomes. A great renewal of management education should emphasize not the mindless pursuit of the destination but how to undertake this journey -putting primacy on social and ecological goals, facilitating meta-learning and relationships, and rethinking pedagogy and assessments. In sum, a renewal of management education is to renew our humanity; putting authenticity, sustainability and integral human development in business.
Patrick Adriel H. Aure (Patch) is the vice chair and an assistant professor from the Management and Organization Department, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. He advocates humanistic management and social entrepreneurship as head of the Social Enterprise Research Network of the Center for Business Research and Development and a committee member of the Lasallian Social Enterprise for Economic Development committee at De La Salle University. [email protected]