The new Foresight in Business and Society course now required of all business students beginning with the Class of 2011 has taken a turn for the better since its inception last fall, students and faculty say.Mendoza College of Business Dean Carolyn Woo said the course, which encourages students to examine and evaluate major issues and trends facing society in the future, was generally not well received at first. “The fall semester feedback was not positive,” Woo said. “I would say 75 percent of students had difficulty with the course.”Woo said starting in November, Mendoza faculty took feedback from students and began redesigning the course. One big change was the addition of more sections to reduce class sizes.“I would say more students are in favor of the class than in last semester,” Woo said. “We have made improvements and are seeing higher satisfaction.”Woo said feedback is always part of the improvement process. “Innovation seldom succeeds at the first try,” she said. “In the innovation experience, it is very important to take feedback.”Woo said Mendoza faculty tend to share her sentiment about the course’s improvement. “They feel that this semester is going a lot better than last semester,” she said. Many students shared Woo’s positive outlook on the course’s improvement as well. “The course has been changed for the better since its inception last year,” said junior Henry Shine, who took the course first semester and is now a teaching assistant. “The course is adapting to fit both students’ wishes and the demands of 21st century businesspersons in a climate where today’s decisions are influencing life in tomorrow’s world.”Junior Richard Roggeveen, who began the spring class “as a skeptic,” said although he had never heard anything positive about the course from fellow students, he was pleased with the course and the material it presented. “As the professors respond to continual student feedback and continue to change course design, I believe that the course does have a place in the business school, at the very least to educate us students on larger problems and issues in the world and how business can act to help relieve them,” he said. The course, conceived three years ago, is the brainchild of Woo and professor of accountancy Thomas Frecka. “For about 30 years I have been concerned that we don’t train our students to look ahead,” said Woo, who began teaching in the business school in 1976. The course was then piloted over the course of three semesters and was offered to self-selected classes of about 10 students. Implementation from pilot to requirement was not easy, but it was necessary, Woo said.“The types of skills acquired in the class are necessary,” she said. “We also didn’t want to create two tiers of students [within the business school] … those who have taken the course and those who clearly haven’t.”Woo said the course, which is concluded with a large-group research project comprising 40 percent of the student’s grade, aims to achieve four important goals. “It helps students understand future trends and then understand the implications of trends among social, political and economic factions,” she said. “[It also teaches students] the methodology people use for generating future trends and assess in greater depth the issues related to these trends.”The course, Woo said, is distinct to Notre Dame. “The course is very unique because it is not offered at other schools,” Woo said. “This is one of the boldest things we’ve ever done.”Woo said the business faculty will continue to take feedback and retool the course this summer.
Organizers are now accepting nominations for the second class of AGL participants. The second AGL class will commence in early 2015. Those seeking more information about the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry can visit agl.caes.uga.edu. After two years learning about Georgia’s largest industry and developing leadership skills, the inaugural class of the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry has graduated from the program. UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty launched the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry program, known as AGL, in 2012 to educate and empower Georgia’s agricultural and natural resource industry leaders to become effective advocates for the largest economic drivers in Georgia — the state’s agricultural and forestry industries. Thirteen industry leaders from across the state have spent the last two years touring farms and processing plants, traveling throughout the state and across the nation. They also spent two weeks in India learning about Georgia agriculture’s role in the global economy. “This class has shared in a journey that has covered many counties in Georgia, multiple states and a foreign country,” said Elliot Marsh, precision agriculture coordinator at Southern States Cooperative and AGL advisory board chairman. “These graduates are already making an impact in our communities and the state of Georgia. I believe that their experiences will play a tremendous role in Georgia’s Agriculture community for many years to come.” The AGL program brings together leaders from all segments of the state’s agriculture and forestry industries. During their time together they helped one another understand and analyze the issues facing their industries, as well as challenges that may emerge in the future. “My experience with AGL made me a better leader and citizen,” said Mark Risse, a 2014 AGL graduate, UGA Georgia Power Professor of Water Resources and director of the UGA Marine Extension Service. “I met hundreds of leaders across Georgia, and my interactions with them taught me that leadership comes in many forms. The experiences that I had, the people that I met and what I learned about myself put me in a better position to accomplish my goals as well as to advocate for those things that I think are important.” The AGL program is coordinated by faculty in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication. “Adult non-formal educational opportunities sponsored by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences like AGL are helping Georgia become a top agricultural state in the nation and world,” said Kay Kelsey, head of the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication. “Graduates represent the elite in Georgia’s agricultural and natural resource-based industries. We would like to see this program expanded and are encouraging interested persons to apply for Class II. Its an experience that will be a game changer for participants.” Graduates of the first AGL class include: Brent Allen of UGA Extension, Washington County Brandon Ashley of the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation, Bibb County Sarah Cook of the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, Turner County Steven Gibson of the UGA CAES Business Office, Clarke County Jennifer Harris of White Oak Pastures, Early County Jutt Howard of North Georgia Turf, Heard County Jesse Johnson of the Southern Land Exchange, Oglethorpe CountyDuane Myers of Kroger, Henry County Tate Izlar O’Rouke of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson’s office, Hall County Mark Risse of the UGA Marine Extension Service, Oconee County Amanda Tedrow of UGA Extension, Clarke County Rebecca Thomas of UGA Extension, Chattooga County Derick Wooten of Rocky Hammock Farms, Jeff Davis County