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Learning Community Lets Students Eat, Sleep and Breathe Business

Sander A. Flaum gives advice on business management at the New York Botanical Garden to students in the ILC-GB. Photo by Chris Shinn

Sander A. Flaum gives advice on business management at the New York Botanical Garden to students in the ILC-GB.
Photo by Chris Shinn

It’s not uncommon for college students to encounter peers who share similar academic interests. Sometimes they’ll even join the same social or academic clubs.

At Fordham, however, a group of students is taking their love of business studies to the next level. They have agreed to share classes, social and academic activities—and even their living area—as part of an integrated learning community.

The Integrated Learning Community for Global Business (ILC-GB) is made up of 37 sophomores who live on the same floor in O’Hare Hall and take several business classes together.

“They are all together basically every day. In the fall, they take “Introduction to Accounting” and in the spring, they take “Introduction to Marketing” as a cohort,” said Steveen Najdzionek, sophomore class dean. “This way they have a cohesiveness that helps to build the community.”

The ILC-GB is one of several learning communities at Rose Hill. There are 490 students enrolled in similar programs. Each community has its own focus, goals, organization and amenities. Each year, the demand for admission into the unique communities has been increasing. Though the ILC-GB is a relatively new program, it enjoyed a surge of applications last spring.

“There were 66 who originally applied, but only 37 were accepted,” Najdzionek said. “The students who are in the program have a very strong interest in business, but they are looking at it from more than just a classroom perspective.”

To enter the learning community, students had to submit business plans as part of their applications. The top two plans as chosen by the College of Business Administration have grown into ongoing mini-businesses.

One half of the group runs Club Ram, an evening social club on campus that held a dance earlier this year. “They looked into the marketing, communication and all the aspects that it would take to open this business,” Najdzionek said.

The other group sells “A Taste of Arthur Avenue” care packages to students as gifts to their families.

“This is just for the Christmas holiday, but they will then go back to the drawing board to see if there is not another good care package idea for the spring term,” Najdzionek said. “They really are trying to get the most out of every minute of their time. They’re trying to build these two businesses.”

Sophomore Caroline Dahlgren said she applied to be part of ILC-GB because she wanted to be around peers that have the same mindset and goals about business.

“I’m a finance major and most of the people on my floor are serious about getting into business after college,” Dahlgren said. “It sounded like a great opportunity at the time, and is proving to be great and then some.”

In addition to their shared classes and business-building, the group has access to special events. Earlier this semester, they attended a private lecture by Chris Lowney, (FCRH ’81, GSAS ’82), author of Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company that Changed the World (2003, Loyola Press).

Students also traveled to the New York Botanical Garden, where they were joined by Sander A. Flaum, co-author of The 100-Mile Walk: A Father and Son on a Quest to Find the Essence of Leadership (AMACOM, 2006). Flaum, chief executive officer of Flaum Partners and chairman of the Fordham Leadership Forum, and his wife, Mechele, took the students on a mile walk through the gardens while discussing management tips.

“It was a really good experience,” Najdzionek said. “For the students, it’s great because they selected to this. They knew there was going to be a lot of work [to be in the integrated learning community]. It’s a big commitment.”

A third of the group will go on a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, over spring break, where they will visit businesses and museums, Najdzionek said.

“There will be work, but also some down time, which they deserve because they work hard” he said. “Every week, the whole group gets together to watch the television show, The Office. They figure they can have a little fun with the business aspect.”


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