New Management Courses Focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

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The year has been a pivotal time for many to reflect on their efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business continues to make addressing racial inequality an institutional priority for the school. In response to this call to action, several faculty developed new DEI courses this academic year.

Ella Washington, professor of the practice in management, taught an MBA course in the fall semester on Inclusion and Innovation, which was designed to help students understand and practice inclusive management skills that will enable them to effectively identify and develop high-impact, data-driven innovations for and with an increasingly diverse world.

“I get excited for the student experience because we work on the foundational aspects of DEI, which leaves students with new ideas and perspectives they probably never thought about before,” said Washington. “We all have a role to play to help influence DEI for the future work and for our broader communities.”

The course combines the following elements to drive impact of diversity and inclusion:

  • Deep coverage of inclusive management practices and how to employ them in a myriad of industries;
  • Problem-based action learning that challenges students to develop their writing, oral communication, and data analytic skills, as well as their global mindset;
  • Involvement of industry experts from Washington, D.C., and Georgetown’s global network; and
  • Opportunities for analysis and reflection on the personal and ethical challenges associated with leadership, innovation, and technology in rapidly changing environments.

Culminating the six-week course is a final team project where students utilize the skills they have learned to find the ‘white space’ of innovation – or where unmet and unarticulated needs are uncovered to create innovation opportunities – particularly around challenges with inclusion, and pitch a sustainable solution for an existing organization.

“Part of understanding how to implement DEI is to first understand our beliefs. We provide immersive experiences that push us all to question our own beliefs, behaviors, and how we see the world,” said Washington. “We want students to lead with these resources so they can actively question the status quo in any situation.”

Bob Bies, professor of management and founder of Georgetown McDonough’s Executive Master’s in Leadership program, has always focused on social justice issues in his course projects. Last fall, he redesigned his undergraduate and graduate courses to put DEI at the forefront.

Bies’ two graduate courses — Power and Politics (MBA) and Ethical Leadership (Executive MBA) — require students to develop Racial Equity Action Plans for McDonough. These plans were shared with the McDonough Standing Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for consideration in their own efforts. Bies collaborated with Georgetown’s Rosemary Kilkenny, vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and Randy Bass, vice president, strategic education initiatives, in these courses. 

“I want to create opportunities for students to gain a deeper and greater understanding of themselves and racial equity, and their role in all of it,” said Bies. “I want students to learn more about those sitting next to them.”

This spring, students in Bies’ undergraduate course, Imagination and Creativity, are working on a group project to reimagine the first-year student experience for racial equity, from the moment a student accepts admission into McDonough until their final spring exam.

The two clients for the project are McDonough’s Standing Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the University’s Curriculum Transformation for Racial Justice Steering Committee.

The students tackle key questions including: 

  • What are moments or situations before/during New Student Orientation, the first weeks of the first semester, and during the first year — inside or outside of the classroom — where inclusion and exclusion are especially salient for first-year students?
  • How can we help first-year students think more deeply about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the business school, at Georgetown, and globally?
  • How can we give first-year students more direct experience with diverse communities at and around Georgetown — and become more effective in engaging in conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion?

In Bies’ second undergraduate spring course, Courage and Moral Leadership — which has been designated a Diversity-National and Diversity-Global course — students are focusing on building an antiracist university.

“The primary focus of the group project for this class will be how to continue to build and transform Georgetown into an antiracist university — with a community and culture of diversity, racial equity, inclusion, and belonging for undergraduate students,” said Bies.

In this course, as part of the DEI focus, Reverend Raymond B. Kemp conducted an Examen for Racial Justice with and for the students, using Amanda Gorman’s poem, The Hill We Climb, as part of the Examen. Additionally, three leaders from the Center for Social Justice led the class in a workshop on antiracism.

Across all of the aforementioned courses, and including Bies’ First-Year Seminar class, Heroes and Villains, students watched a video created by Georgetown University student-athletes titled I Can’t Breathe. Bies said that, after watching this powerful video, one student told him: “I knew some of the athletes, but I didn’t realize how they felt.” Now, this student and his classmates are working to create positive social change at Georgetown. “And that is what a Jesuit education is all about,” Bies said.