12 highlights from our year

Professors win prestigious award

Last fall, two Smith faculty members who teach in the Commerce program were recognized by the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program’s Ideas Worth Teaching Awards.

Professors Lindsay (Kawennenhá:wi) Brant and Kate Rowbotham teach the “Relationships and Reconciliation in Business and Beyond” class. It was one of eight winning finalists that were chosen from a pool of nominations representing 90 schools from 19 countries as part of the Ideas Worth Teaching Awards that draws attention to new ideas about the role of business in creating a sustainable, inclusive society.

The Relationships and Reconciliation in Business and Beyond course is taught in Smith’s Commerce program, and an abridged version with Professor Ann Deer was delivered to MBA and professional graduate students as part of 2021’s Summer Enrichment program. It provides students with a different way of thinking about business.

“Through the creation and teaching of this course, we were able to shape students’ understanding of business and business education as relational,” said Professor Brant. “It is my hope that by sharing our story of this course and why we created it, we can inspire others to do the same in their institutions. It’s such a critical time in our society, and our future leaders need to be aware of the historic and contemporary challenges and triumphs of Indigenous peoples.”

Students who took this course were able to interrogate the neo-liberal concepts that were positioned as foundational in their business education and recognize the power of economies of care that existed far before settler colonialism that still thrive today.

While the content of the course addresses the destruction that capitalism inflicted on Indigenous peoples, the professors’ emphasis on Indigenous excellence and resurgence encouraged students to see how any business could adopt principles that incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and doing in an appreciative and non-appropriative manner.

“We also carried course content into our teaching practice,” Professor Rowbotham explained. “Our pedagogy of peace, which draws on the values of the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace, encouraged us to put learners at the centre of all that we do. By centring students, we decentred ourselves and willingly stepped back to allow student voices to shape the learning and teaching that occurred.”