LSBE’s inaugural DEI Challenge Cup, held during spring semester, has a winner: Ruby Nancy, a faculty member from the Marketing department.
Since the creation of LSBE’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) action plan last fall, the school has implemented numerous impactful strategies. Among them was the DEI Challenge, where LSBE faculty were invited to submit proposals for integrating DEI content into existing courses. From the twelve projects spring semester, four faculty—Steve Castleberry, Ruby Nancy, Junhua Wang, and Lin Xiu—advanced to the final round of the competition. At the challenge cup event, the finalists described their DEI curricular methods to an audience of LSBE faculty and staff, who chose Nancy as the 2022 Curricular Challenge Cup winner!
Dr. Nancy, an assistant professor of business communication, described business communication as focusing on meeting needs and solving problems for businesses and organizations. “My course has always focused on students, working with them to sharpen their existing skills and gain new skills so they can effectively use a range of communication modes and channels to meet the needs of the profession.”
With the DEI Challenge in mind, Nancy began by providing students with clear and specific definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion:
- Diversity is about recognizing and appreciating differences within groups,
- Equity is about correcting/adjusting for differences in access to opportunities, and
- Inclusion is about fully welcoming the marginalized and excluded.
Because of the general course content and focus, Nancy said integrating these concepts into her course was fairly seamless. “My course already has a big team assignment where students select and research a business topic, then write a detailed research report and create other deliverables based on their research. Student teams choose their topics, but I generally ask them to choose a topic from a relevant theme. For the assignment this past spring, I used diversity, equity, and/or inclusion as the broad theme.”
According to Nancy, one crucial reason for understanding the concepts of DEI is to acknowledge the obstacles people may be dealing with in their daily lives, such as racism, sexism, religious intolerance, and more. “Our students represent a diverse range of identities and experiences, whether immediately visible or not. Acknowledging this truth is crucial.
“Students should not have to continually work on teams with colleagues who have little to no knowledge about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Nancy.
LSBE graduates who do not have a clear understanding of these issues will be at a disadvantage to others who have strategies for incorporating DEI concepts into their workplace, Nancy added. “They will be less profitable and less innovative over time, struggle to retain top talent, fail to serve lucrative markets, communicate inefficiently, and be less effective working with teams.
“None of our students should graduate from our programs with a shortfall in these areas, which shows how critical it is that an understanding of DEI be a focus within our classrooms.”
Nancy says she will continue to help students become business leaders, integrating DEI concepts in the business communication curriculum. “Based on the engagement of students during spring semester, I will definitely continue to include DEI as a theme for these core assignments.”