I admit that I’m a bit of a geek. For those who know me, this is really no surprise. I enjoy going to class, reading textbooks, absorbing information from my professors, and even sometimes taking tests. While these are very integral components of the educational process, I have felt a more profound impact guest lecturers and the external perspective that they seem to bring to the university I attend.

Case in point: This weekend, I have the pleasure of listening to Robert Quinn and his son, Ryan, discuss their book Lift: Becoming a Positive Force in any Situation. I’m sure you can only imagine how elated I am for the opportunity to discuss such important subject matter as the business world begins to aggregately embrace the paradigm shift to positive psychology and leadership.

I am even more excited by the notion that Benedictine University truly “gets it” —as evidenced by its effort to invite more than 200 scholars and practitioners to instruct graduate Organizational Behavior and Organization Development students on real life application of scholarly work (over the programs’ existence). This investment in time and resources speaks volumes of its progressive perspective, and will hopefully incite other institutions to take the same stand.

To any instructors, professors, directors, or deans who read this blog, I encourage you to explore implementing a learning lecture series in your curriculum. It is well worth the investment. Here’s why:

  1. No one takes education in a vacuum seriously. My entire academic experience has been accelerated (I skipped 8th and 9th grades and finished my BSBA and MBA in five years). The one skepticism-bordering-criticism I’ve always heard is “But you don’t have any experience.” I learned this lesson early and began a pursuit of a dual career as a scholar-practitioner. Universities must provide these opportunities for their students—even if their students don’t seek them out like I did. I assure you, the light bulb will turn on when students hear from those in the “real world” how they can use their degrees and what type of contribution it can make.
  1. Simulation promotes comprehension and increases the chance of implementation. Students need to know what it’s like to translate theory into practice. By hosting a learning lecture series, they receive real-time feedback from presenters and actually have the opportunity to “walk a mile in their moccasins.” Doing so increases the chance that students will use the information that they learned. In this instance, they would’ve read the material as pre-work (visual), listened to the guest lecturer (auditory), and applied real-world examples of success through dialogue or reflection (kinesthetic). It’s a win-win-win!
  1. Quality networking trumps…well…a lot. I won’t say that networking is the end all be all. However, practitioners are well aware that when someone “knows you,” it can be the acceptance or dismissal of a job opportunity (depending on what sort of impression was made). Having a learning lecture series allows students to network with the guest speaker and other practitioners who are often invited to partake in the festivities. This opportunity provides them with the exposure they need to “put a finger on their next step” and to meet the people who will help get them there.

The greatest part of hosting learning lecture series is that many other scholars, practitioners, and scholar-practitioners enjoy the opportunity to pass on their wisdom to a new generation. More important, they realize the impact that imparting the knowledge will have:

  • better quality future employees
  • greater contributors to society
  • wiser, more experienced acumen at the proverbial “table.”

With this plea in mind, please consider making this investment in your school and most of all in your students. I promise it will truly be worth it!