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Student Experiences

Creating a More Inclusive Environment

In the Classroom

When the BYU Marriott Inclusion Committee gathered data about students’ experiences in the business school, the committee discovered a common theme. While the school had done well with preparing students to meet job qualifications, many individuals desired further guidelines on developing inclusive behavior that they could carry with them into the workplace.

A student at a desk writing notes during a lecture in a classroom

Two BYU Marriott courses already being taught—HRM 391 and MSB 390—covered the business and moral reasons for creating diverse workplaces. Although these classes formed an important groundwork for students, the committee saw an opportunity—and a need—to build upon that foundation.

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Many individuals desired further guidelines on developing inclusive behavior.
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“With these academic and theoretical bases, the inclusion committee thought practical methods of working with diverse individuals and real-world tips to be more inclusive were also important for our students,” says Taeya Howell, a member of the inclusion committee and an assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources.

The committee concluded that a curriculum on inclusion would benefit students by helping them respect differences in others, be comfortable with diversity at work, and abandon outdated ideas of gender capacities. By learning how to exhibit these essential attitudes in today’s workplace, BYU students and alumni would not only strengthen their value in the world around them but also change the views others may have about the university and its students.

“Fairly or not, our graduates have sometimes been perceived as judgmental and insular,” says Lisa Thomas, a curriculum developer and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Management. “Our students have great goodwill, but some have had limited interaction with diverse populations.”

With this reality in mind, the inclusion committee asked Howell and Thomas to prepare course materials on inclusion and diversity. The two embraced the assignment, working to compose a valuable curriculum that would reach all students.

“The inclusion committee used its data gathered from students to identify issues of concern,” Howell notes.

Our primary goals were to improve student experiences within the business school by creating a more inclusive environment and to better prepare BYU Marriott students to succeed in diverse workplaces.

The resulting inclusion curriculum was piloted at the end of the Fall 2018 semester in all twenty-two sections of MCOM 320: Communication in Organizational Settings. The curriculum was introduced as supplementary material to be taught in addition to the standard MCOM 320 topics.

Following the pilot program, the final inclusion curriculum was launched at the beginning of Winter 2019 semester. Based on the results they have already seen, Thomas and Howell are confident that the curriculum will have a positive long-term effect on the BYU Marriott School of Business.

“The deans have made clear the importance of this topic and the need for our students to be inclusive,” Thomas says. “Given this specific information, their own good intentions, and the explosive light of God’s love, I think our students will be even better able to express understanding for the good of all people.”


Written by Brendan Gwynn