At the end of this course, students should be able to:
Phases of Course
In many classes, learning occurs through the semester and the exams and projects occur at the end of the term. In contrast, this course is a substantially front-end loaded class. Of the total workload in this class, at least 70% of the total will take place during the frst 7 weeks of class and the 2 weeks in-country. A great deal of this work will take place outside of class time. It is vital that students develop early routines and build sufficient time outside of class to meet regularly with their teams, their faculty advisors and their discussion groups.
Phase 1: Deep Dive
Philosophy: Phase 1 is based on the philosophy that complex problems must be approached from multiple angles, and that these must be considered in the unique context of each country. In this phase we tackle the complex challenges driving our project by considering how different theories and perspectives might inform the particulars of each context. In class sessions will cover economics, philosophy, political science, law, peace studies and business perspectives. Students will bring their independent research about Ethiopian contexts and the projects to bear upon these theories.
Even before class, you will be expected to build a knowledge base regarding Ethiopia, cancer and other relevant topics. You may consider reading the history of the country, biographies of individuals who lived or worked in those areas. You may also want to consider building expertise in areas of healthcare, agriculture, mining or any other topic that relates directly to the project assigned.
In class and through the preparation of readings we will consider how perspectives on peace, business, law and political science can build a picture of the challenges and opportunities of doing business in post-conflict societies.
Phase 2: In-Country
Philosophy: The projects we tackle in this course are complex and multifaceted, they concern real lives and their full nature cannot be understood by reading a book. The second phase is based on the philosophy that in order to truly understand the challenges facing a particular context, we must first walk with and learn from those we hope to serve.
The second phase takes place during January 2017. Although much research can be accumulated early, the time in country provides the most opportunities for fact-finding and research. The concept is for a total immersion into a complex situation, at the end of which the Frontiers of Business Initiative team will present a tentative recommendation.
During the first day our in-country partners will go over safety and security procedures, the full itinerary, and the project overall. The first week’s itinerary will include meetings and interviews that focus on the overview of the project, and of business in Ethiopia. This can include meeting with business, religious, political and academic leaders, and in a typical day, students may be able to interview up to 5 different people. In the past, it has been helpful to have the team travel further in-field in its data-gathering during the first week. It is important to build a schedule with some flexibility for the joint partner- Frontiers team to make adjustments, as needed. It is possible that the team will be split to cover more interviews. It is recommended that you find a cultural or leisure activity unrelated to the project to undertake while in-country.
During last day, the team will come together to present initial findings to our partners. This will be scheduled with time for group questions and discussion and followed by a private meeting with the country representative or project leader to gain their feedback and discuss post-trip expectations and deliverables.
It should be noted that although the problems are defined and researched by the team in Phase 1, these problem statements frequently change as the problem is further examined and understood. These changes could be a shift in focus from one area of the organization to another, a narrowing of the scope of the project, or even finding that the problem statement needs to change entirely. In addition to maintaining flexibility on the ground with respect to projects, it is also important to note that the pace of life in many of the countries that we visit may be different than a typical American business environment. As a result, students and faculty should expect to be flexible with respect to the timing of responses to requests from our partners. For example, in a number of countries, interview schedules were not fully solidified in advance, but rather are planned at the beginning of each day, because the context would not have supported such advance planning. In other cases, travel to distant places may require students to spend a significant portion of each day in traffic being transported to sites. Adjusting gracefully to these unknown unknowns is a natural part of the Frontiers of Business Initiative's in-country experience.
Phase 3: Delivery and Reflection
Philosophy: The third phase is based on the philosophy that there are no quick solutions to the challenges our partners face, and that we must take time to both individually and collectively reflect on the lessons learned, on how we can drive value for our partners and on how we might give back to those who enabled us to have this opportunity.
Phase 3 has three parts. The first is the completion of the project. This typically consists of both in-class and outside of class activities. Class time will be devoted to collective problem solving with respect to the projects. Outside of class, continued contact with our partners will include periodic conference calls to communicate progress and gain additional feedback before formulating final recommendations, a memo detailing the problem statement, in-country findings, analysis, and final recommendations to be delivered within 4-6 weeks of the team departure date and a final conference call with our partners to review final recommendations and answer any questions about the memo.
The second part of this phase of the course involves giving back to all those who invested time and energy into the Frontiers course. This may include presenting the projects around campus, improving the course for the next cohort, writing case studies and properly thanking all of our supporters.
The third part of this phase involves reflection. The experience in-country is one that is likely to leave a lasting impression. This is a unique experience that often takes a great deal of time for its full impact to be realized. It is during this third stage that students and faculty have the opportunity to individually and communally digest the experience. The third and fourth reflection papers, as well as class discussions that revisit earlier questions will aid in this reflection.