College of Business & Economics
Academics meets community service in Bill Smith’s popular Business Ethics and Society course (MGMT 482). On the academic side, the course gives senior business administration majors an opportunity to study interactions between business and its non-economic environments: ethical reasoning, stakeholder analysis, corporate responsibility, crisis management, and the political process.
Equally important is Smith’s requirement that each student contribute 8 hours of community service to a Baltimore-area nonprofit—about two to four days of work over the course of the term.
Smith says his course is a natural place to integrate service-learning with traditional classroom instruction. “It’s also a good way to teach students about community needs,” he adds. “They learn how nonprofit organizations serve communities and the role businesses play when they forge partnerships with nonprofits."
“They learn how nonprofit organizations serve communities and the role businesses play when they forge partnerships with nonprofits."
“The key thing is that students can work for causes they support,” he says. Smith’s extensive contacts database enables him to match MGMT 482 volunteers with food banks, homeless shelters, after-school mentoring programs, animal welfare groups, environmental organizations and other worthy-but-understaffed organizations from the contacts database he maintains.
“They need help,” he says of the nonprofits, “and my students need the experience.”
Smith also pushes his students to consider what they learned about the world and themselves from their out-of-the-classroom experiences. “They have to research their individual causes and write a paper,” he says, “For example, if someone spent those 10 hours at an animal shelter, he or she might research the economic impact of stray dogs and cats. I want them to reflect on what they’ve seen.”
But do the students themselves see their contributions as meaningful? Nearly all of them do, says Smith. “On the evaluation forms, about three quarters say the volunteer experience was the most beneficial part of the course.”
“I hope they continue to volunteer after graduation,” he adds. “I think they understand
how crucial it is to the well-being of the community.”