A decade ago, University of La Verne management professor Lauren Dyck introduced a unique course for MBA students that challenges them to think beyond the traditional concept of business transactions. BUS 551: Seminar in Organizational Theory and Behavior, divides students into groups of four to five and challenges them to exchange a small $1 item for something of greater value in the La Verne community.

This project allows students four weeks to apply organizational theory and behavioral concepts learned in class to a real-world scenario. They gain valuable skills such as negotiation, decision-making analysis, emotional intelligence in the workplace and improving communication within groups. Professor Dyck created this assignment to provide students with hands-on experience applying course concepts and theories beyond traditional case studies.

Over the years, this project has evolved to include not only trading items but also donating them to local charities. In recent years, students have proposed the idea of donating the items they exchanged to local charities, which has been modified by Professor Dick for each student team to find a local charity to donate their final item to. This addition emphasizes students’ commitment to community and civic engagement while learning and applying course concepts and theories.

As BUS 551 reaches its tenth year, Professor Dyke revealed that students have exchanged and collected over $8,000 worth of items for various local charities. However, this year’s collection was nearly $300 less than previous years due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. Despite this setback, the items traded included a variety of valuable goods that highlight the importance of fostering connections within communities even during difficult times.

Dyck’s class is just one example of how University of La Verne professors foster a community of changemakers who are committed to making a difference through their academic pursuits. To keep up with all the latest happenings at the university, visit the University of La Verne news page at https://laverne.edu/nevs/.

By Samantha Johnson

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