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Employee Spotlight

Peak Perspectives

Each fall Peter Ward, associate professor of experience design and management (ExDM), leads his students as they climb Rock Canyon’s rugged walls. So whether in rock-climbing classes amidst breathtaking scenery or ExDM research classes within the walls of the BYU Marriott School of Business, Ward teaches students how to interlace academic and spiritual studies.

Peter Ward wears a black suit and a blue-yellow striped tie as he smiles at the camera.
Peter Ward is an associate professor of experience design and management.
Photo courtesy of BYU Marriott.

“The majority of my job doesn’t feel like work,” Ward says. “I have a lot of fun in this job, but the most enjoyable part is inspiring my students to grow closer to Christ.”

Since 2006, Ward has taught BYU Marriott students to make the most of their education. He explains, “I like students to realize that they’re capable of doing more and that they have great potential.” He strives to help students discover their potential, and he follows a formula for achieving that goal.

He begins each of his classes with a prayer and blends his class discussions with gospel principles. In his rock-climbing classes, he often invites students to connect with God through self-reflection as they spend time in nature. At the beginning of each class period in EXDM 490: Topics in EXDM, Ward invites his students to conduct their own personal gospel study for ten minutes. “They reflect on gospel topics, and that helps them make spiritual connections to what we study in class,” Ward explains.

This approach helped Aaron Scribner, a senior from Orem who took Ward's EXDM 490 class, gain more appreciation for blending the gospel with his academic pursuits. “Professor Ward has been a great example to me in the ExDM program,” says Scribner. “He always listens to what students pray about at the beginning of class and makes a genuine comment about the prayer.”

Peter Ward descending through a slot canyon in southern Utah.
Ward enjoys canyoneering with his family and students.
Photo courtesy of Peter Ward.

After the students discuss their gospel insights, Ward teaches his students how to conduct research projects of their own. “This class serves as our main PhD prep course,” Ward says. “Working with an existing dataset, I teach them the publication process and mentor them along the way.” As students choose one of four projects—each led by a different ExDM professor—they receive additional coaching on the writing and publishing process.

The EXDM 490 coursework requires students to accomplish some daunting tasks in their research. But Ward teaches his students they don’t have to accomplish these tasks on their own. “I talk with the students about how the Spirit plays a role in my research and how it helps me discover new things,” Ward says. “I enjoy watching the lightbulb go off in students’ minds.”

For Ward, teaching students brings him continual satisfaction. “Seeing my students overcoming struggles to accomplish high-level academic work strengthens my testimony of the gospel and tells me that I am doing the right thing,” Ward says.

He also acknowledges that each student experiences different trials on his or her path. Ward explains, “We’re all on a path. We’re all on a journey, and we’re at different points on that journey. I hope to help my students move forward in their journey in a positive direction.”


Written by Jake Holt