Back in 1964, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan captured the mood of millions when he released his anthem for his generation, “The Times They Are a-Changin’ ”. And some might feel it’s as fresh today as it was back then, given the magnitude of transformations taking place right now.
“We have the prime minister on the cover of Rolling Stone,” Arden Henley, principal of Canadian programs at City University of Seattle in Canada, told the Straight by phone. “British Columbians elected a government that’s supported by the Green party. We’re about to renegotiate NAFTA, and the outcomes are uncertain.
“We know we’ve got to reach the two-degree [Celsius] level in terms of climate change,” Henley continued, “and if we let it go over that, the results will be catastrophic.”
Then there are dizzying developments in technology, nanotechnology, and quantum computing, not to mention the rising influence of artificial intelligence.
“So from our point of view, this demands a fresh approach and a new sensitivity and awareness in business and management,” Henley said.
This is the backdrop for CityU in Canada—as the school is also called—creating a new bachelor of arts in management degree. Known as the BAM, it enables people with a two-year college or technical-institute education or two years of undergraduate university training to leverage those credits to complete a four-year degree.
The school operates on a quarterly system and offers small class sizes—typically 12 to 15 students in the BAM program. “There’s going to be lots of opportunity to interact not only with the instructor but also with your fellow students,” Henley said.
As with CityU in Canada’s graduate degrees in counselling and education, ethics and environmental sustainability are embedded in the BAM curriculum. Instructors are practitoners in their fields, and the faculty includes a marketing expert and a former chief financial officer.
According to Henley, program director Tom Culham worked for years in senior management in the lumber industry before obtaining a PhD in education. His thesis formed the basis for his 2013 book, Ethics Education of Business Leaders: Emotional Intelligence, Virtues, and Contemplative Learning.
“Historically, ethics has been thought of as a rational decision-making process,” Henley said. “But what research in neuroscience has shown is that our emotional lives play an important role in decision-making.”
That’s because during periods of stress, signals from the emotional centre of the brain—the limbic system—can override the prefrontal cortex, which governs rational thought. Hanley emphasized that it’s important for managers to understand the importance of “self-regulation” to deal with these episodes.
“Tom has incorporated emotional awareness in his ethical-decision-making model and instruction,” he added. “I think that’s really cool.”
So who is best suited for the BAM program? Henley cited the example of a person with a two-year diploma who has progressed to a supervisory position or started their own business.
“You need to know the basics of management: how to read a financial statement, market a service, or get to know the key HR issues in hiring. A degree makes sense to you now,” he said. “And you want to manage in a fair and ethical way. The BAM is for you.”
Then he cited another example: a person with a sociology degree who is supervising a program for at-risk youth for a small nonprofit organization. This person knows that the employer sees him or her as management material.
“You want to learn how it’s done by professionals,” Henley said. “You also ride your bike to work and you care deeply about climate change. The BAM is for you.”
The program also deals with employment standards and other labour-relations issues.
“We’re going to provide people with the basics so that if they become a leader or a supervisor, they know what the basics are and they know where to find them,” Henley said.More