Becoming a Global Leader through Service-Learning

By Jordan Perras

Carla Brodley
Dr. Paula Caligiuri

As a leading expert in the field of Organizational Psychology, Dr. Paula Caligiuri has focused her studies on how to develop culturally competent employees. With the help of the Service-Learning program, her class ‘Becoming a Global Leader’ puts that into practice for Northeastern’s MBA students. Throughout the semester, students discuss varied topics including “humility, cultural competency, active listening, and how to unpack invisible biases,” according to S-LTA Liza Ashley. The course exposes graduate business students, many of whom come from the corporate world, to the novel world of nonprofits. These local cultural immersion experiences allow students to practice the skills they are learning in the classroom, while utilizing their business skills to complete a project for their community partner.

Despite challenges in the first few years with ironing out what community partnerships could and should look like in such a unique context, Dr. Caligiuri’s students are now happily partnered with a variety of local nonprofits including Boston Cares, Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, the Dream Project, and Boston Housing Authority. The service is project-based, meaning that students spend the semester working to address a specific issue the partner faces. Each project is tailored to the skills of the students and the needs of the partner with the help of the S-LTA. Current S-LTA Liza Ashley shares, “These projects include designing effective management trainings for supervisors, creating pitch presentations to garner more corporate partners, and designing a marketing strategy to revitalize a neighborhood.”

Andrea and Daphne at MUA
Dr. Caligiuri’s students Andrea Ornelas (right) and Daphne Perlade (center) at Mujeres Unidas Avanzando.

Dr. Caligiuri encourages other faculty members to explore the world of Service-Learning. She says, “If you can give students an opportunity to practice the skills they are learning in the classroom and to understand the importance of the context of those skills, they will develop professional competencies.” S-LTA Liza continues, “They are able to apply the concepts that are discussed in class in a real-world setting, and solidify theory and [course] discussion in practice.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Caligiuri’s students typically don’t participate in the S-L EXPO; most are busy working full-time. While you won’t be able to see them present about their projects, the impact of their work can be found throughout the city.

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