Neil Lundberg, the chair of the Department of Experience Design and Management, has witnessed the Experience Design and Management (ExDM) program change and evolve.
As the program transitioned into what it is today at the BYU Marriott School of Business, Lundberg has adapted alongside it.
When Lundberg came to BYU in 2006, the recreation management department was housed by the College of Health and Human Performance in the Richards Building. After three years, Lundberg and his department moved to the Tanner Building. In 2017 the recreation management program became ExDM.
“This career has been a career of evolution in a lot of ways,” Lundberg says. In addition to a new building and a name change for the major, the curriculum Lundberg teaches has evolved from specific recreation management principles to broader design principles for all types of businesses.
Lundberg emphasizes that the ExDM program is more than just recreation management and outdoor adventures. “Only about 10% of our students are interested in ExDM from a recreation context,” he says. "The other 90% are interested in directing and managing experiences for businesses, events, and hospitality.”
One of the aspects about the ExDM program that excites Lundberg the most is the increased focus on an experience economy. Lundberg explains that by using this model, students learn to focus on the value of time and how consumers desire and pay for experiences that create the highest value for their time. Lundberg extends this idea to the classroom by focusing on how students spend their time in the ExDM program.
“I hope students feel like their time in our department, in our classes, and with each other is time well invested,” Lundberg says, “because that is a transformative educational experience.”
Lundberg explains that he works to enhance students’ time at BYU Marriott by making their experiences in the ExDM program more robust and cohesive. For example, new student orientation and the Senior Spark event are student-led celebrations for juniors and seniors in the ExDM program to help them meet other students and experientially engage in the program.
“We teach students to make things more immersive and engaging by making the separate elements of an experience harmonize with each other,” Lundberg says. He explains that one simple strategy is to tailor experiences to all five senses and to find ways to enhance the emotion of an experience. Lundberg adds that throwing in memorabilia can enhance and extend the students’ memories of the event.
Lundberg currently applies these principles to the EXDM 422: Experience Needfinding class he teaches. The class is project oriented to give students hands-on experiences with real businesses to figure out what the organizations need.
“All of the students select businesses or organizations they want to work with to understand what their needs are,” Lundberg says. “Instead of simply throwing a solution out, we try to thoroughly understand the unmet needs of the customer through empathy exercises and then innovatively address those needs through design-thinking methodology.”
During fall 2022 semester, Lundberg’s students worked with the Shops at Riverwoods, Provo Parks and Recreation, the For the Strength of Youth program, and other businesses and organizations. “None of the projects are hypothetical,” Lundberg says. “They are all dealing with real problems that real people face, and our goal is to provide solutions through experience design.”
Working with students in the classroom is the most exciting part of his job, Lundberg says, and everything he does is focused on helping those students succeed. “I’m excited for the students in the ExDM program,” he says. “The foundation these students receive at BYU Marriott enables them to grow and evolve after graduation both professionally and spiritually, no matter the field they enter.”
Writer: Liesel Allen