Experiential learning at DeGroote

January 9, 2020 |
Contributed by Rebecca Hull, Marketing and Communications Strategist
DeGroote experiential learning class

INNOVATE 3ZZ3 Imagining and Navigating the Future class

How do we peer into the future and prepare for forces that will likely disrupt our lives in five- or 10-years time? The new DeGroote School of Business course, INNOVATE 3ZZ3 Imagining and Navigating the Future, asked this question of senior undergraduates this past semester.

Throughout the Fall 2019, students from over 10 different McMaster degree programs explored major forces that are transforming the world. Students investigated change leadership models to prepare for the disruptions they will face in their professional lives. They dedicated their time to working in teams on experiential learning projects that analyzed the trends driving change across a range of domains, such as the future of work, healthcare, the environment, and financial markets.

INNOVATE 3ZZ3 Imagining and Navigating the Future

Tyler Corso, a Level 3 Honours BCom student at DeGroote, focused on the future of smart grid energy systems. “This course was unlike any other I have ever taken. Everything was shrouded in ambiguity at the start of this course. But, step-by-step, we had to find the flashlight, build the battery, and assemble everything into a cohesive set of tools to illuminate the future,” says Corso. For me, this is one of the most valuable courses any undergrad can take at McMaster.”

Tom Gleave, Industry Professor at DeGroote, developed the new experiential learning course for DeGroote. The course combined a skills-focused curriculum with an environment that ensured the cross-fertilization of ideas among classmates. “One of the most important elements of this course was creating a platform where everyone could learn from everyone. Students and teams constantly shared ideas and received input from each other. This amplified the high levels of energy, passion, and creativity that everyone brought to the class. It was a wonderful learning experience,” Gleave said.

Some students, like Adina Silver (Level 4 Honours Life Sciences), took the course because of the different pedagogical approach. “Most of my learning is traditional and looks at the past or present. This course took me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to look into the future, which was a bit more challenging at times,” says Silver. “It has been an enjoyable experience learning from such diverse student perspectives. It was interesting to learn how transformation can impact us all in so many ways.”

Business Education in the 21st Century

This unique experiential learning course was supported by Lynton “Red” Wilson (O.C), a distinguished retired public servant and business executive, proud alumnus (BA ’62 & LLD ’95) and two-term Chancellor of McMaster (2007- 2013). “As you see the world changing, the question is how do you participate in whatever it is you are involved in? In deciding how you could move ahead? If you don’t see where the puck is heading, you will be left behind,” said Dr. Wilson during final course presentations. “I admire what you are doing. Looking ahead in the way you are doing is important.”

The DeGroote School of Business continually asks what is the purpose of business education in the 21st century? We strive to build today’s leader – an individual who thinks big, explores new possibilities, acts with integrity, and embraces change. By embracing change and teaching strategic foresight, we are developing leaders who can think ahead and effectively manage the constant change around us. We are designing for a better tomorrow, and in doing so, creating a brighter world.

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