Honors Program Seminars

Students are required to take three courses from a menu of two-credit Honors Program seminars. Some examples of recent seminar topics include: “Corporate Responsibility,” “Intellectual Property,” and “Globalization.”

The goal of this requirement is to provide an extra set of opportunities to help students think more broadly and deeply about the process of leading others and the special functions leaders perform in helping teams to be more effective. A minimum grade of “B” is required in each seminar. This is a requirement only for students enrolled in the management Honors Program curriculum and cannot be taken until the sophomore year.

Recent Seminars

SM454 Corporate Strategy: Diversification, Acquisitions, and Alliances
Samina Karim, Assistant Professor, Strategy and Innovation
Why do acquirers usually overpay for targets while knowing that most acquisitions fail? Is there such a thing as a “merger”? What, exactly, is considered an “alliance”? How do firms work with alliance partners while safeguarding their resources and capabilities? When is a firm better off just doing things on its own? What are the markets a firm should enter or exit? These are but a few of the questions that arise when considering firms’ corporate strategies for growth and dealing with inter-organizational relationships. This seminar will explore several dimensions of diversification, acquisitions and alliances including issues of firm scope, selecting targets and partners, valuation, transaction hazards, implementation, integration and evolution. We will explore issues using in-depth discussion of cases and examples from recent current events.
SM453 Mistakes We Make: Improving Decision Making
Keith Ericson, Assistant Professor, Markets, Public Policy and Law
People make predictable mistakes when making decisions. In this course, we will identify common mistakes and biases, including procrastination, taking the default option, and overconfidence. We will discuss how these aspects of behavior affect individuals, markets, and public policy. You will have the opportunity to evaluate your decisions and identify strategies for improving them—for instance, when you should set a deadline, or how commitment devices can help you quit smoking. We will then discuss how mistakes and biases affect markets, how law and public policy responds to those mistakes, and how to identify potential business opportunities. The course will consist of in-class decision games/experiments, case discussions and lectures. Readings will be drawn from the books “Nudge,” “Thinking Fast and Slow” and other sources. Students will conduct a project applying insights from the course to a social problem of students’ choice, as well as write short response papers designed to jump-start class discussion.
SM456 Creating Sustainable Food Systems
Kristen McCormack, Master Lecturer, Executive-in-Residence
The U.S. food industry, representing nearly 20% of the US Gross National Product, is faced with challenges ranging from consumer health concerns to environmental impact. The current approach to producing and distributing food in the U.S. is undergoing a transformation with pressure to become more “sustainable.” This seminar provides students with an understanding of key trends in the industry including challenges related to sustainability. Students will explore a range of current industry innovations and will evaluate planned or existing prototypes of regional sustainable food systems. This course builds on or introduces students to the core business concepts of systems thinking, disruptive innovation and cross sector partnerships to achieve positive “triple bottom line” results. The format for this course emphasizes experiential learning including site visits to food manufacturing plants, packing facilities or farms, interviews with key players in the food production and distribution supply chain and the use of media and interactive technology. Deliverables for the course include a research memo and a final oral presentation.
SM455 Causes of the Financial Crisis
Don Smith, Associate Professor, Finance
There is now much written on the financial crisis in the U.S. that started with the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in 2007 and hit its nadir with the events surrounding the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008. Despite the many books, panel discussions, blogs, even movies on the crisis, there still is much disagreement on its causes. Nonetheless, we all still feel the consequences as the economy and job market continue to struggle. The intent of this course is get students to have their own voice on the causes of the financial crisis. The primary reading will be the official “Final Report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States” (including the statements from the dissenters) that was released in January 2011. This will be supplemented by articles and video clips. Students will be required also to read one of the many books on the crisis written by financial journalists and academics (e.g., “To Big To Fail”, “Fool’s Gold”, “Reckless Endangerment”, “Guaranteed to Fail”). There will be two deliverables: (1) a term paper in which students express their views on the crisis overall or some particular aspect of it (e.g., predatory lending, credit rating agencies), and (2) a review of the chosen book.
Careers in the 21st Century
Kathy Kram, Shipley Professor in Management, Organizational Behavior
In this seminar we will examine the nature of careers in the 21st century, and how they differ from traditional careers of prior generations. Readings on Careers, Adult Development, Work-Life Balance, and Mentoring will inform our conceptual understanding of contemporary careers. In parallel, students will complete a number of assessment tools in order to develop a deeper understanding of the values, goals, and skills they will bring to their work after graduation. Each student will complete brief thought papers, a group project, and a seminar paper in which they present their working theory of Career Management, and a personal plan for implementation going forward.
Global Sustainability
Kristen McCormack, Executive-in-Residence/Lecturer, Organizational Behavior, and Faculty Director, Public & Nonprofit Management Program
Lifestyle Discrimination
Kabrina Chang, Assistant Professor, Markets, Public Policy and Law
Can your boss fire you because you had a raucous party at your house over the weekend? Can they fire you because you support a political candidate the CEO does not? What about if you smoke cigarettes—at home? There are very few laws that protect employees under these circumstances. We will explore examples of discrimination based on off-duty employee conduct, and what, if any, laws protect employees, through in-depth discussion of cases and state statutes. We will also look at the management considerations behind such actions, and whether from a manager’s perspective, there are better ways to address the relevant concerns while reducing the likelihood of a lawsuit.
Privacy Law
David Randall, Lecturer, Markets, Public Policy and Law
Privacy is a broad, elusive, and ever-evolving concept. This seminar uses an authoritative legal text and in-depth discussion of court opinions to examine the various legal bases for the right to privacy, to explore the limits of the law’s protection of privacy interests, and to develop students’ ability to analyze and understand legal problems.
Sustainable Development and the Global Economy
Paul McManus, Executive-in-Residence/Lecturer, Strategy & Innovation, and Managing Director of ITEC
To introduce this course I paraphrase Bill Clinton:
The next big challenge is whether the 21st century is marred by [scarcity,] terrorism [and environmental degradation] of all kinds or whether it becomes the most peaceful and prosperous time the world has ever known. – Bill ClintonThrough readings, cases and rich discussion of current events, students will explore the topics of globalization, environmental sustainability, their impact on cultures, societies, politics, and business. Over the course of twelve weeks we will; travel the globe to uncover the social, cultural and economic legacies of eight countries, walk the crowed streets of emerging megacities, the halls of big business and corridors of national powers to take the measure of what I consider to be the most important issue of our time.
Sustainable Energy – Data and Debates
Nitin Joglekar, Associate Professor and Dean’s Research Fellow, Operations and Technology Management
Two key barriers to the diffusion of sustainable energy technologies are the difficulties in measuring the performance of these technologies with precision, and the ambiguity in linking the impact of individual technologies on the aggregate global climate in the long term. Such barriers give rise to debates, including questioning of the data that setup the very premise of global warming. Such barriers may also spawn opportunities for new business models and alternative policies for pricing of environmental externalities. This seminar examines data on the individual and aggregate impact of hydrogen, wind, solar and heating technologies, with applications to the transportation sector and the built environment, though a combination of readings, a simulation game, group discussions.