PULLMAN, Wash. — Just what is diversity? A societal issue? Do businesses have concerns with diversity? Should they?
A new section of a foundation course, “Introduction to Business: Management 101” at Washington State University, will this fall tackle those tough yet contemporary questions.
At the head of the class will be instructor Maggie Reed, international business scholar and anthropologist, who has previously taught several courses in the WSU College of Business and Economics (CBE). She plans to broaden the scope of the traditional CBE Management 101 class with a curriculum, readings, and a guest speaker line-up that evidences and examines the contemporary concept of diversity in the workplace.
“Diversity is the mirror image of globalization,” Reed says. “Americans — and American businesses — are realizing that globalization means more than just doing business overseas anymore. It’s foreign firms setting up shop in the U.S. It’s our growing workforce of immigrants. The demographics of the workplace is changing.
“Diversity is a complex issue. It’s not always as clearly defined as we might like to think. In part, at least. It’s a personal issue. There’s nothing to clearly define it,” Reed says. “It comes down to the individual — how does that person see herself and how do others see her?”
The new course was inspired by recent WSU student and faculty initiatives calling for examination of intercultural issues, says CBE Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Chris Paxson. “The most efficient and expedient way for us to respond was to tackle the issue of diversity in a foundation business course. We’re thrilled to be one of the first academic units at WSU to step up to the plate and meet this challenge.”
In its kickoff semester, enrollment in the class is by “initiative only” — students must take the initiative to enroll by contacting the Management and Decision Sciences Department in CBE. Enrollment is open to 25 students. During summer, leaflets about the new course were available around the Pullman campus and at new student orientation sessions.
“It’s important that students know all students are welcome to sign up for the course,” says Reed. “It’s not offered exclusively to minority members. Rather, it will be inclusive of diversity. And that is an accurate reflection of American business to offer in an introductory class.”
For more information, contact Management and Decision Sciences at 509/335-7527 and in Todd Hall #342 on the WSU Pullman campus.