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News@Ivey · Laura Woodman

Ivey’s inaugural Wood Centre Symposium showcases innovations in business education

Jun 7, 2024

L-r: Zoe Kinias, Julian Birkinshaw, and Sharon Hodgson at the John F. Wood Centre Global Symposium.

L-r: Zoe Kinias, Julian Birkinshaw, and Sharon Hodgson at the John F. Wood Centre's Global Symposium.

Executives and educators from leading global business schools came together to gain innovative ideas and engage in transformative learning experiences centred around the evolution of work at Ivey’s inaugural Wood Centre Global Symposium, held recently in Toronto.

Hosted by Ivey’s John F. Wood Centre for Innovation in Business Education, the event at the Donald K. Johnson Centre focused on how to create transformative learning experiences and showcased some recent initiatives at Ivey. Zoe Kinias, an associate professor of organizational behaviour and the John F. Wood Chair in Innovation in Business Education at Ivey, said the goal of the event was to bring together people who might not otherwise connect to discuss ways to integrate technology in education while balancing humanity and inclusion.

“The energy, deep thinking, and diversity of perspectives that were in the room were very powerful and I am very happy with what we created,” she said. “We designed the Symposium to encourage the exploring, testing, and sharing of insights from research and practice in both educational and professional contexts.”

The event began with a fireside chat moderated by Kinias, featuring Ivey Dean Sharon Hodgson and incoming Dean Julian Birkinshaw, MBA ’91, PhD ’95. Their conversation integrated Ivey's critical issues into the purpose of the Symposium and framed the agenda to focus on integrating research and teaching in the evolution of work in business education. They also discussed how to leverage technology to create learning experiences for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in the context of evolving business and human relationships.

Hodgson shared insights from her leadership journey, including the transition from leading organizational change to leading a business school. She told how that transition was motivated by the transformative power of education and inspired by her first-generation university graduate parents.

“I saw an opportunity to work with the best business school in Canada and to elevate it,” she said.

Birkinshaw discussed organizational ambidexterity, an area of study he has focused on during his academic career, and connected it to his plans for Ivey. He said one of his goals at Ivey is to balance innovation advancements and maintenance.

“Ambidexterity is about figuring out ways of essentially changing while also maintaining a focus on the present,” he said.

Birkinshaw, an Ivey graduate, said his connection to the School motivated him to take on the dean role.

“To have the opportunity to lead the school from which I came, and a school that shares my beliefs, was important to me and that’s why I’m here,” he said.

Integrating values into organizations

The Ivey Values Studio was among the many Ivey initiatives featured. The event included both an introduction to and demonstration of the Studio, which focuses on the practice of integrating values into organizational lives, led by Erin Huner, Director of Culture and Inclusion at Ivey.

“This project came about during our strategic planning process, where we decided to embed core values into our Ivey Next strategy,” said Huner. “That doesn’t mean we were operating in the absence of values; it just means that we hadn’t codified them in a way that they were part of our strategic plan, our purpose.”

Huner also highlighted the visual aspect of the Values Studio, which she said is a great example of creative teaching methodology. She acknowledged the work of illustrator Emma Richard who did illustrations of each of Ivey’s values and has captured other portions of the Studio sessions through illustrations.

“Having a visual reminder of what this is, rather than having to read a report, has been a really interesting way to broaden the pathways to knowledge,” said Huner.

Introducing virtual reality

To complement the Ivey Values Studio portion, a parallel session showed participants how virtual reality (VR) can be a high-impact tool for creating critical incidents as a means to learn EDI fundamentals and to develop EDI skills.

Shannon Rawski, assistant professor of organizational behaviour at Ivey; Amy Lou Abernathy, CEO and founder of AMP Creative (Ivey’s VR learning experience development partner); and Theodore Masters-Waage, a VR research expert and postdoctoral scholar at the University of Houston, led the session. They discussed the EDI-relevant experiences they have created with their teams. For example, Masters-Waage, Kinias, and colleagues recently published findings from a VR social experiment that showed people typically do not notice when their team members steal ideas.

Rawski discussed some of the learning objectives for the development of specific EDI skills through VR, including perspective-taking, empathy, bias identification, emotion regulation, and critical conversations. Participants later engaged in a sexual harassment bystander simulation aimed at counteracting bias and improving conflict resolution.

Managing stress, fostering curiosity, and more

Leading innovation in business and business education can be stressful so Columbia Business School Professor Modupe Akinola, a social psychologist who examines the science of stress, delivered a workshop on how to lead while under stress. While acknowledging that stress is a health and performance problem, Akinola said it can also be a productivity and performance activator.

“Stress can be enhancing. You can reach higher levels of performance and well-being under constant or increasing stress. Your mindset determines your response,” she said. “Continually elicit an enhancing stress mindset by acknowledging, welcoming, and utilizing your stress.”

Derrick and Marilyn Raphael, cofounders of ICON Talent Partners, told about their work in creating inroads to success in competitive professional programs for highly talented Black, Brown, and Indigenous youths. Darren Meister, associate professor of Entrepreneurship at Ivey, also shared ideas for creating inroads to business education that begin with curiosity rather than clear-stated intent. Both perspectives focused on creating pathways for diversified top talent to enter into business education, ultimately providing organizations and society with more highly skilled talent that can innovate and foster agility.

Innovation Fair highlights the use of technology in business education

The Symposium concluded with an Innovation Fair where participants shared and explored how teaching technologies and practices can be used to create transformative learning experiences.

Ivey Publishing’s Candis McInnes, Director; and Violetta Gallagher, Associate Director, presented on Ivey’s Digital Learning Experiences (DLEs). These innovative tools are digitally enhanced cases and courses in a user-friendly platform and are designed to make the classroom experience more rewarding for faculty and students and to facilitate more meaningful in-class discussions.

The Innovation Fair also had a richly integrated immersive and live classroom where participants could use code to track case protagonists and topics over time. The classroom also featured other innovations, including a mapping model for entrepreneurship education, an inclusive leadership board game, and a business case comic book.

“Everything in the Fair demonstrated how business education can benefit from integrating technology and/or creativity into people’s development through business pedagogy,” said Kinias.

Wood Centre Global Symposium

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