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The Case for Colombia



Dear Loyola,
Welcome to our blog from our travels and on-the-ground research in Colombia. The idea for this project was born out of conversations with incredible professors and like-minded students who wanted to reach beyond the classroom for greater learning. This project was several months in the making and still a few months to go, this is only a small aspect of our travels and research through Colombia. We are lucky to be a part of this small group of students under the direction of Prof. Shultz and fortunate for the opportunity to embark on this project through the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.

To introduce this project and set the stage four our adventure I am including Prof. Shultz’s blog post below:

Students Leading Extraordinary Lives in Emerging Markets

Preparing students to lead extraordinary lives is something we do exceptionally well at Loyola University Chicago and the Quinlan School of Business. Among the many things I find so refreshing about the Quinlan School is the number of students who enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to immerse, engage, learn, discern and transform in emerging markets, and thus to jumpstart that process. This blog focuses on some curious, conscientious, can-do students who have taken the plunge – from Cambodia to Colombia – and who are committed to leading extraordinary lives.

To offer a glimpse into a unique learning opportunity, for the next few weeks or so some students with whom I am working will share thoughts in this space and elsewhere on their experiential learning in Colombia. I should mention that they already have successfully completed MARK 561, “Comparative Consumer Behavior and Marketing in Emerging Southeast Asia”. Transformative experiences in that course inspired a few of them to approach me last November, to ask if I would teach a second immersion course. While that was not possible this academic year, a conversation about independent study unfolded.

Several discussions and meetings about academic and methodological rigor, place, objectives, logistics, responsibilities and outcomes ensued over the next several weeks; we eventually decided that Colombia would be the country of focus. Note that I still had not signed-on as supervisor and I said that no academic credit would necessarily be forthcoming. Undaunted, the students soldiered-on, collectively allocating an impressively large number of hours to readings, and Friday-night meetings and discussions with guest speakers and me. Their energy and enthusiasm were remarkable. In addition to our information search, chats, meetings and presentations, the students worked online with a few of my colleagues at three Colombian universities, and with authorities in various sectors to arrange activities and seminars in country, and to set a full itinerary. They increasingly took ownership of the learning process, in coordination with several scholars, business leaders, government officials and policy analysts in both Colombia and the US. In sum, through participative learning and supervised independent study, they are truly leading extraordinary lives and they will earn academic credit.

Depending on the outcomes of this initiative, which will run through June, I am hopeful this participatory and guided learning experience might become a template or prototype for an honors seminar, offered to some of our leading graduate students, at least for those with interests in emerging markets. The evidence thus far suggests it can be a unique and valuable opportunity to learn, and an important catalyst from personal transformation to engaged action, commensurate with St. Ignatius’s encouragement “to go forth and set the world on fire”.  Below, please see some reports — essentially, cut-and-paste entries — shared by the students, as they blaze their trail and reflect on their experiences.


Aggeliki Gikas, MBA with an Operations Management Concentration and Business Ethics Certificate Candidate – May 2015

Sarah Haque, MBA with Finance and Strategic Management Concentration Candidate – December 2015

Katherine Kasch, MBA with Marketing Concentration Candidate – May 2015

Gregory Lizak, MBA with Marketing Concentration – May 2015

Lisa Marks, MBA with Strategic Management Concentration and Business Ethics Certificate Candidate – May 2015

Justine Petcoff, MBA with Strategic Management Concentration and MSA Candidate – May 2015

 Colombia Team photo

From left: Lisa, Kate, Justine, Greg, Aggeliki, Sarah

Group Bio:

In the spirit of Jesuit education that Loyola University Chicago provides, these six program participants have been inspired by the social justice mindset of Loyola as well as the international travel opportunities offered through the Quinlan School of Business Marketing classes. After discovering a love for both of these areas of study, program participants were inspired to continue learning about business and underserved populations in additional parts of the world, specifically Colombia.

Colombia remains a disenfranchised country; as business students, the program participants believe that business is a vehicle for positive change in Colombia. Program participants see ourselves as academic catalysts to Colombia, building on our academic experiences at the Quinlan School of Business and the mission of Loyola University Chicago. We have a personal sense of accountability as Quinlan School of Business students that what we say we believe in and value must be the way we operate. Therefore, program participants are excited to undertake this special opportunity to leverage Professor Shultz’s 25 years of experience in devastated and recovering economies, and to engage in on-the-ground, experiential learning in Colombia.

Blog tagline:

“When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change.”

Peter Hans Kolvenbach S.J.

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