Story in the School of Business
Business lecturer leads students on an immersion trip through Alaska about leadership sustainability.
As an Undergraduate Business Programs lecturer, William Mains teaches courses that focus on leadership competency and development. In addition, he leads the Contemplative Leadership and Sustainability Program (C.L.A.S.P.), a program designed to give business students the opportunity to learn about sustainability issues firsthand.
Sustainability, Leadership, and the Community
One Saturday a month from January through June, C.L.A.S.P. students go on outdoor excursions and participate in service projects that engage the surrounding community. Students also have a chance to hear guest speakers from a diverse range of industries discuss sustainability issues. The main goals of the program are to teach students about the importance of the environment in the community and to help students explore tangible ways to make a difference.
Experiences in practical, professional settings help students "start putting plans in place to achieve some of their vocational goals," Mains explains. Exposure to these issues also "helps students know what their values are, so that as leaders they know what they stand for and have ownership over their decisions."
In the summer of 2012, Mains led the first immersion trip to Alaska, a two-week immersion during which SCU students experienced the untouched wilderness of rural Alaska and interacted with local communities to learn about renewable energy projects. As with the C.L.A.S.P. program, the immersion combined exposure to the environment and interaction to community members, giving students a unique learning experience.
"I think when you take students out of their comfort zone and put them in a place that might be completely foreign to them, it?s an opportunity for growth and self-discovery," he says. "The wilderness immersion helps them reconnect with the earth and understand why it's important to think about in terms of business decisions." Immersion into the community is also about "finding out what the community itself wants and forming a relationship with the people you're working with so that you can also benefit from the partnership as well."
Mains looks forward to strengthening relationships with local communities on future immersion trips to Alaska. "Students have the chance to interact with people who think differently, who behave differently, who have different values, or similar values but express them in different ways. My goal is that it educates and that it be a life-changing experience."