We just finished our June classes in Chapel Hill, and with the OneMBA class of 2013 graduating a couple of weekends ago, we’re now the “senior” class of the Kenan-Flagler OneMBA program. A milestone that we quickly grab onto as a reminder that we’ve turned another corner in this journey. While in Chapel Hill this weekend, I thought about the value of being together in-person with my colleagues in a class room environment. This wouldn’t be true necessarily at the high school level or even the college level as much, but at the graduate level I believe that in-person collaboration and study significantly enhances the learning process, mostly because your fellow classmates are made up of seasoned professionals and experienced individuals. In such an environment, you truly have a wealth of developed talent to draw from.
Some classes probably lend themselves to be taught in the online format. For example, classes that are more rote in nature, where a professor lectures from the bold letter terms in a book, aren’t necessarily enhanced by the classroom environment. Classes that are more subjective in nature, however, come alive in a classroom environment where professionals can engage in debate and discussions on everything from marketing philosophies to business strategies. Our OneMBA Class of 2014 had several such lively discussions this past weekend in our June classes, discussions that generated thoughtful conversations, sharp debate, and more than a few laughs.
Normally, our monthly classes are held in the Washington, D.C. area, but a few times over the course of the program we meet in Chapel Hill at the beautiful Rizzo Conference Center. Attending classes 8 hours a day at such a picturesque location can make it difficult, especially when there are blue skies and 75 degree weather outside. Such a length of time coupled with the beautiful weather normally would cause any sane person to ask, “Why am I doing this?” However, the classroom inside the Rizzo Conference Center is an arena of vibrant learning.
The class is Marketing and the topic is the ethics of advertising. For our discussion, we compared two controversial ad campaigns – Dove’s Real Beauty ads in the US and the Fair & Lovely skin creme ads in India. Dove’s ads, with some going viral and becoming wildly popular (and even spoofed), successfully tapped into an undercurrent of consumer dissatisfaction with airbrushed super models being the examples of beauty and all that is to be desired. The Fair & Lovely ads tapped into Indian women’s desire to have lighter skin (in India, being light skinned is desired like being tan is desirable in the Western world) with adds that showed a dark-skinned Indian women depressed because her skin was not light enough to get a husband. With several of our classmates coming from India, the discussion was particularly informed and insightful even though such ads generated strong opinions. Certainly having a diverse classroom enabled us US based students to be more thoughtful in how we imposed our Western perspective on another culture. Turnin
There’s a proverb from the Bible that says, “As iron sharpeneth iron so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Personal engagement and conversation in a classroom setting certainly helps sharpen your critical thinking and mature your perspective.
Lee Lowder is an attorney who is pursuing his MBA at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler’s Business School. HIs previous posts: