The Catholic University of America

Sept. 15, 2010

Students in New Graduate Business Program Learn the Ropes

  From left, Meredith Kirsch and Sara Saidi on the obstacle course. (Photo courtesy of GO-Adventures)

For students in the new Master of Science in Business Analysis program at CUA, learning the ropes at the beginning of the semester was more than a metaphorical lesson. It was also a literal one.

As part of the program’s two-day orientation, 14 students and four faculty members recently spent a day amid the Maryland pines climbing up and down, balancing on and jumping off ropes. Their goal: to get to know one another and study team dynamics. Call it a new way to teach the ancient Catholic social principle of solidarity.

“Some students hesitated at first to take the ‘leap of faith.’ I know I did,” Stewart McHie, director of the M.S.B.A. program in the business and economics department, said of a free fall off a platform 40 feet above the ground.

“But team members encouraged each other, said you can trust us. It was kind of spontaneous. So that was nice to see.” The all-day event, held at an obstacle course in Darnestown, Md., was led by GO-Adventures, a Maryland-based outdoor business venture.

In academic terms, the M.S.B.A. students are a diverse lot. They hold 11 different undergraduate degrees from nine different universities. Teaching them the program’s skills and values inside the classroom is difficult enough, McHie added. Teaching them those lessons while jumping off 40-feet high platforms and balancing on ropes is at least as challenging.

The new one-year master’s program aims at teaching graduate students how to succeed in business while practicing Catholic social teaching, especially the Church’s principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and respect for human dignity.

“Traditional business schools require one ethics course. The M.S.B.A. program at CUA incorporates these principles into every one of its courses,” Andrew Abela, department chair and associate professor of marketing, noted. “Learning how to serve society through business is an important part of our program.”

McHie, the former global brand manager for Exxon Mobil, added, “Before the students can serve society, they have to learn to serve each other, which is why we began the M.S.B.A. with this strong emphasis on teamwork.”

The program plans another team-building event later this month.

To see more photos and videos of the program, visit the GO-Adventures Facebook page.

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