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A Force for Transformation

A Force for Transformation

Experiential Learning

At the Carlson School, we challenge our students to learn by doing, to wrestle with real dilemmas for clients big and small, to leave the classroom and the country to explore our globally connected business world.

The Carlson School has long been a pioneer among business schools in creating real-world opportunities for students to learn in the workplace, and we continue to forge dynamic partnerships with Minnesota businesses to deliver hands-on learning experiences. We encourage and support emerging entrepreneurs who will launch startups in new industries. And, as the first business school to require an international experience, we foster a global mindset in our students.

Support of experiential learning creates opportunities for students to enrich their educations, discover and pursue their passions, and dig into local and global challenges.

  • MIS Students Learn Tools of the Trade

    Boston Scientific Case Competition

    Boston Scientific Case Competition
    Boston Scientific Case Competition

    It’s not often a vice president at a global corporation turns to a group of undergraduate students for advice on a potential major technology upgrade.

    But that’s precisely the situation that played out last month at the Carlson School in Information & Decision Sciences 3202 through a revamped case competition in partnership with Boston Scientific (BSC).

    The 120 students in Assistant Professor Sofia Bapna’s course had 2½ minutes to hook the judges—think the reality show Shark Tank—on their proposals for adopting blockchain technology at the Fortune 500 medical device company.

    And their reward for a successful pitch? Fielding some tough—and specific—questions face-to-face and off the cuff from the judges, who included two VPs and two directors from BSC, along with senior information technology leaders from General Mills and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

    “We had broad business value (in our presentation), and that’s what you kind of learn in a textbook. You learn the big, broad value, but they’re looking for specific little bits and pieces,” said Mitchell Wanous, a junior majoring in Finance and Management Information Systems (MIS). “Getting questions like that, where it was, ‘How can we actually implement this in Boston Scientific?’ ‘Where’s the specifics on it?’ was just a little bit different perspective.

    “They were actually trying to learn something from us. You could tell, the questions were tailored where they were trying to get us to give them more information so they could learn about it.”

    That’s precisely why BSC chose blockchain as this year’s topic, according to Ben Amel, ‘12 MBA and the company’s vice president of information technology sell and support. Blockchain, which essentially creates global, secure, constantly updated records ledgers, has been touted as a transformational technology for the healthcare industry.

    Bapna said exposure to leading-edge technology like blockchain will prove valuable for students as they start their careers. “When they graduate and land their first jobs, they are likely to find that most businesses are thinking about how to use blockchain. These students will have an understanding of blockchain going in,” said Bapna. “They’ve tried to solve a real business problem using this technology. It’s not new to them.”

    When they graduate and land their first jobs, they are likely to find that most businesses are thinking about how to use blockchain. These students will have an understanding of blockchain going in.
Your investment develops leaders, spurs innovation, and sustains excellence.

Naming opportunities are available to support students, faculty, experiential learning, and facilities. 

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  • Social Venturing in Action

    Through Wilderness Inquiry

    Wilderness Inquiry
    Wilderness Inquiry

    For the last five years, Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship Senior Lecturer Steve Spruth has been emphasizing the “in action” part of his MGMT 4000 course, Social Venturing in Action. The undergraduate class is designed to be similar to the hands-on approach MBAs receive in their Enterprise courses.

    The genesis of the class began about 10 years ago when a group of students wanted and helped create a nonprofit major at the Carlson School. “The capstone was this class, where you can study how local nonprofits can try to solve the world’s problems,” says Spruth, who team-teaches the class with Venture Enterprise Director Toby Nord. “But some of the most interesting social projects were not in nonprofits, they were in for-profits. This last year we got permission to broaden this capstone class to look at what social entrepreneurs are doing to make the world a better place.”

    Now, half the class does consulting projects with nonprofits and half are working with for-profit companies. “They are doing amazing work and amazing projects,” Spruth says.

    The class worked with Wilderness Inquiry, a nonprofit and the nation’s largest provider of canoe-based education. “We are designing an activity where Carlson School students will canoe down the Mississippi River this fall learning about water-related projects past, present, and future,” Spruth says.

    Wilderness Inquiry, with an office in Dinkytown, is founded and directed by Greg Lais, ’91 MBA. “Steve was thinking how he could weave this river experience in more of an academic way,” he says. “We talked about all of the pieces in terms of business development. St. Anthony Falls, the founding of the milling industry, river transportation, water works system—so many of our things started here in the community because of the river.”

    The class will spend two-and-a-half days paddling the river in 24-foot canoes and visiting sites from a water intake plant in Fridley—which serves most of Minneapolis and St. Paul—to a waste treatment plant in Cottage Grove. Along the way, students will observe all the businesses that have evolved on the river bank as well as the native life—otters, eagles, and blue herons—that make the river their home.

    “A lot of people may think that it’s environmental education. Certainly there is a lot to learn there, but it’s not environmental education per se,” Lais says. “The class is really about experiencing the Twin Cities in terms of business and infrastructure through the experience of the Mississippi River. Discovering how the natural environment and natural resources helped to shape the creation of the Twin Cities and how the two interact even to this day. Ecology, commerce, and business rolled into one.”

    The class is really about experiencing the Twin Cities in terms of business and infrastructure through the experience of the Mississippi River. Discovering how the natural environment and natural resources helped to shape the creation of the Twin Cities and how the two interact even to this day.
Your investment develops leaders, spurs innovation, and sustains excellence.

Naming opportunities are available to support students, faculty, experiential learning, and facilities. 

More About Naming Opportunities »

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