Foresight in Business and Society became a required course in the Fall semester of 2009 for all junior-level students at the Mendoza College of Business. Designed to dissolve the line between academic study and the real world, the course features guest lecturers, use of alternative class space and activities, a mentorship program, class discussions, and teaching by a team of instructors with diverse backgrounds. The semester-long, deep-dive Foresight Project tests research and analytical skills as student teams identify and research issues that have personal interest and far reaching impact.
The Foresight course begins with an introduction to "futuring" and an overview of global challenges and mega-trends from a variety of authoritative sources. It then examines methodologies and research techniques used in forecasting and analyzing probable future scenarios. Throughout the course students are challenged to develop and apply critical, creative and systems thinking in the context of specific issues.
- Develop an awareness of important issues and trends affecting society, including issues related to sustainability.
- Develop an understanding of the methodologies and tools used by organizations to identify trends, to consider the implications of change, to plan for alternative futures, and to suggest solutions leading to preferred futures.
- Develop various thinking and visionary skills, including critical/analytical thinking, systems thinking and creative thinking to effectively address complex problems.
- Explore specific responses and interventions to these issues and trends by government, business, NGOs, think-tanks, and other organizations.
- Produce well-reasoned research studies that address major societal issues, consider trends and future implications for society and business, and suggest appropriate solutions, in light of moral and ethical concerns.
University of Notre Dame
Mendoza College of Business
MGTO 30110 Foresight in Business & Society
Junior Research Challenge: Foresight in Business & Society
GENERAL INFORMATION AND COURSE REQUIREMENTS:
- Course Description: Foresight in Business and Society introduces business students to future studies research, enabling individuals to spot emerging opportunities and threats, and develop innovative responses to serve changing needs. Foresight in Business & Society is a course that challenges students to engage in the process of identifying and evaluating major issues, trends and uncertainties impacting business and society in the future and exploring potential business implications that can drive sustainable innovation. The course covers three broad areas of focus:
- Perspective: Framing and Scanning for emergent trends and issues in business and society;
- Evidence-based Foresight: Trend Analysis and Forecasting to define expected and plausible alternative future scenarios; and
- Insight: Implications Assessment to identify and communicate emerging opportunities and threats and devise plans to create preferable outcomes.
We challenge students to analyze emergent change in society today by exploring megatrends, global challenges (The Millennium Project and UN Sustainability Development Goals) and issues related to sustainability and demography. We then provide a framework that includes a range of foresight tools and methods for forecasting future scenarios and analyzing implications of future change. The course is designed to facilitate critical/analytical, systems and creative thinking. Students are challenged to demonstrate competency in using the foresight framework and the core thinking skills via a semester-long team project on a topic of their choosing.
- Required Readings:
- All readings are listed by class session in the schedule provided with this syllabus.
- All readings are posted on Sakai: (*Resources tab: Foresight Resources/Readings folder) or (**Library Reserves tab). Location is denoted in the schedule provided with this syllabus.
- Course Objectives: Change comes in linear (continuous) and non-linear (disruptive) forms and creates opportunities for business to prosper by early identification of emerging market transitions and anticipation of their implications and potential solutions. The first step in defining such solutions is awareness of trends and signals of emergent change. Based on this awareness, evidence-based foresight can be leveraged to develop insights enabling leaders to plan for and create positive change in the future. Thus, the overall course objectives are:
- To demonstrate an awareness of important issues, trends and uncertainties affecting business and society, including issues related to sustainability.
- To develop a scanning core competency to frame, spot and interpret “weak signals” of future change and its implications.
- To apply the methodologies and tools used by organizations to develop evidence-based projections of plausible future outcomes and assess emerging implications, opportunities and potential responses for business.
- To hone strategic thinking skills including critical/analytical thinking, systems thinking, creative thinking and visioning skills that are essential in effectively addressing complex problems.
- Produce a well-reasoned foresight report that demonstrates proficiency in the objectives mentioned above.
- Class Delivery: Foresight in Business & Society is taught through a combination of classroom lectures, in-class exercises, classroom discussions, Socratic questioning, video illustrations, and guest lectures. Class plans for each class day will be posted on Sakai prior to each class. The reading assignments and any assigned homework should be completed prior to class and you should be prepared to discuss the material covered in the readings on the date indicated on the syllabus. All assignments must be turned in as hard copies unless otherwise indicated. Students are also required to keep electronic versions of all assignments.
- Course Materials: Class plans, Class Slides, Assignments, Readings and other materials (e.g. sample projects, quiz review sheets, links to various important websites, etc.) are available on Sakai. Additional handouts may be distributed in class.
Course Requirements: To successfully complete Foresight in Business & Society, students must:
- complete the assigned readings and consider the discussion questions before each class;
- fully participate in classroom discussions;
- complete the assigned homework assignments, including the Scanning Posts;
- complete the assigned quizzes;
- complete all deliverables for the Team Foresight Project assignment;
- present project findings in class and a digital showcase.
- Quizzes: There will be 4 quizzes based on course material (readings, lecture, etc.) throughout the semester, including one optional quiz at the end of the semester. The 3 highest scores will count and the lowest score will be dropped. There is no midterm exam and no final exam.
- Class Attendance/Preparation/Participation: The Foresight course is intended to be highly participatory and class participation accounts for 10% of your grade. Course requirements include attending every class, being on time for every class, being prepared for every class, attending team meetings and making meaningful contributions to our class discussions. Being prepared to participate in the class discussions is an important aspect of this course. To assist you in preparing effectively, it is expected that you consider the brief discussion questions, in the Class Plan, based on the readings for the class. Readings, class lectures, discussions and activities will be critical for success on the homework, quizzes and foresight project assignments. Expect to be called on in class. Attendance will be considered as a component of class participation in final grading. Additionally, the instructor reserves the right to significantly lower a student’s course grade including the award of a failing course grade to any student that misses 6 or more class sessions regardless of performance on other elements of the class. If you are not able to attend a class, please let me know.
- Inclusiveness: The University of Notre dame is committed to social justice. I share that commitment and strive to maintain a positive learning environment based on open communication, mutual respect, and non-discrimination.
In order to create a classroom environment that supports respectful, critical inquiry through the free exchange of ideas, the following principles will guide our interactions:
- Treat every member of the class with respect, even if you disagree with their opinion;
- Reasonable minds can differ on any number of perspectives, opinions, and conclusions;
- Because constructive disagreement sharpens thinking, deepens understanding, and reveals novel insights, it is not just encouraged, it is expected;
- All viewpoints are welcome, but none are immune from scrutiny and debate;
- You will not be graded on your opinions.
- Support for Student Mental Health at Notre Dame: Care and Wellness Consultants provide support and resources to students who are experiencing stressful or difficult situations that may be interfering with academic progress. Through Care and Wellness Consultants, students can be referred to The University Counseling Center (for cost-free and confidential psychological and psychiatric services from licensed professionals), University Health Services (which provides primary care, psychiatric services, case management, and a pharmacy), and The McDonald Center for Student Well Being (for problems with sleep, stress, and substance use). Visit http://care.nd.edu/.
Getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do both for yourself and for those who care about you.
- Accommodation for Students with Disabilities: Any student with a documented disability and is registered with Disability Services should speak with me as soon as possible regarding reasonable accommodations. Students who are not registered should contact the office of Disability Services. sarabeadisabilityservices.nd.edu/
- Team Foresight Projects: The class will be divided into teams of four to five students each. Each team will develop a foresight report and present the findings of the project to the class. Please review the “Team Foresight Project Assignment” document (on Sakai) for details on deliverables, due dates and grading. Final grading will take into account individual contribution based on team peer evaluations (see the Teammate Collaboration and Contribution Evaluation form included in this syllabus) allowing for up to a two letter grade difference in the final project grades.
- Grading: Your final grade will be calculated as follows:
Graph, Paragraph, Photograph 20 points
Project Topic Ideas 30 points
Peer Review of Another Team’s First Draft 50 points
Scanning Posts (3 Rounds) 60 points
Team Foresight Project: (50%)
Scope of Project Brief 25 points
Current Assessment 75 points
Trend Analysis Strategy 25 points
Foresight Forecast 75 points
Final Foresight Report 250 points
Final Presentation 50 points
3 Quizzes @ 80 pts each (24%) 240 points
Class Attendance & Participation: (10%) 100 points
Total Points: 1,000 points
- Technology: I believe technology can add a lot of value to one’s education and has a place in the classroom. In addition to coordinating with you team throughout the semester, you will have the opportunity in-class to use your personal device to gather information and develop your team’s project. During lecture/discussion however, I ask that you be conscientious about your technology use. Using a computer/tablet for note-taking is perfectly acceptable. Activities such as gaming/entertainment, shopping, maintaining a text conversation, etc. are not considered a good use of the time we have together, and can impact one’s ability to participate effectively. If I become concerned about any student’s abuse of technology, I will talk to that student directly (away from other students) and likely ask to look over their notes from the class.
- Professor Contact: Students are encouraged to contact the professor via e-mail or in person with any questions or to request assistance throughout the semester. Additionally, teams are encouraged to meet with the professor through the stages of the foresight project, especially during the early phases. There will be (2) scheduled TEAM MEETINGS with the professor to provide feedback after the Current Assessment and Foresight Forecast Assignments. All team members are required to attend. Regular offices hours are listed above, but I will be available by appointment as well. Email is preferred, although my mobile number is posted to reach me as needed.
- Honor Code: Students are reminded that the Academic Code of Honor governs their performance in Foresight in Business & Society. The pledge to uphold the Academic Code of Honor includes an understanding that all submitted work, graded or ungraded — examinations, draft copies, papers, homework assignments, extra credit work, and the like — must be your own. Any kind of academic dishonesty is a violation. For more complete guidance, go to http://honorcode.nd.edu/.
Work on the team foresight project is collaborative. You are encouraged to discuss your work with your peers, faculty and other resources available to you so long as you properly cite any sources of information or ideas that you glean from those collaborative engagements. It is a presupposition that ideas and expressions in a submitted paper or report, unless otherwise indicated, originate from the writer. Consequently, if ideas or expressions in your written work originate from another, whether the person is an author or fellow student, you must cite that source in an endnote or footnote. If an idea or form of words arises from the common effort of two or more students in conversation, this fact must be cited.
The governing rule for this class is “when in doubt, cite it”. See the “Citation Guidance” folder on Sakai for additional citation support materials.