Meeting in the Gray Space

Lehigh Business Dean Georgette Chapman Phillips

Image by Christa Neu

The best leaders are experts at synthesizing knowledge. For this reason‚ at Lehigh Business‚ we challenge our students to integrate knowledge across the curriculum. But we don’t do the work for them; we facilitate discovery on their own path to integration.

We started the Year of Learning last year with that in mind.

The Year of Learning is an annual college-wide initiative that focuses Lehigh Business students and faculty on a particular topic through classroom activities and College events. Each academic year we take one theme and weave throughout all the business classes‚ asking students to discover the commonalities or differences in how that same topic is treated in different classes.

We are seeing results. Reading the student reviews from last year’s theme‚ The Corporation & Society‚ it was clear our students were connecting the dots across classes. They noticed when the topic was approached from different perspectives. The goal here is not to say there’s only one answer to this question. It’s to say to the students‚ "We’re going to help you acquire the tools‚ so you can figure it out on your own based on the several perspectives you encountered."

We live in such a divided society‚ where people are not able to disagree with one another in civil discourse. I want the Year of Learning to be a model for how we can talk with one another. Hopefully‚ through this‚ we can begin to learn how to communicate in the gray space.

Join the Discussion

Picking a topic is more of an art than a science. With lots of input‚ we look for something that impacts and grabs people‚ but is applicable to everything from statistics to management courses. (Hats off to the faculty for jumping in with both feet.)

This school year the theme is Limitations of Technology? Friction vs. Leverage. We’ll be delving into the push and pull of adopting new technologies; exploring whether the good that new technology brings outweighs the harm it can cause; and whose responsibility is this process?

This fall‚ Sanjay Shah ’89 MBA‚ founder of Vistex‚ Inc.‚ was featured at the Donald M. Gruhn ’49 Distinguished Finance Speaker Series (see page 12). This March‚ technology journalist‚ Brian Merchant will be speaking. Merchant wrote about the “secret history of the iPhone” and has a new book called Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech.

Here’s to meeting‚ with civil discourse‚ in the gray space!

Georgette Chapman Phillips
The Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business

Follow Dean Phillips on Twitter @LehighBizDean.

Listen to the Dean's podcast on this topic.