Campus News

SEBA strives to incorporate fresh perspectives into business school’s future

After noticing gaps in their business education, fifth-year student David O’Keeffe and third-year student Trevor Holtz decided to take action — the creation of the Social and Environmental Business Advocates in September 2019. 

SEBA works to implement changes in the business school, focusing on ways the school can develop solutions to curb climate change, as well as prioritize diversity and inclusion. Holtz cites the need to be aware of the issues around sustainability and social justice as future business students

“I felt the stereotypes of B school students coming true and sometimes felt alienated by the culture in place because it didn't align with all of my values,” Holtz said.

Topics like the “triple bottom line,” a new theory within business that promotes people and the planet alongside profits, are at the center of attention for SEBA. 

The group emphasizes the importance of the histories of marginalized groups to its members. At one of their weekly meetings this semester, SEBA discussed topics surrounding indigenous populations. 

On Oct. 28, the coalition held an event to promote sustainability. SEBA will hold another event on diversity in business on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

“We have an opportunity as students to make changes now in Grainger and at the university, especially with the strategic planning process happening in the spring,” Holtz said.

The strategic planning process is an initiative within the business school that encourages members of the community to discuss suggestions for change. The conversations occurred within strategic planning groups, which then led to a task force of 22 people who set goals and make plans to implement these changes.

SEBA collaborated regularly during this process, including meetings Chris Dakes, the project manager of the strategic planning task force.

“The two primary reasons that the University of Wisconsin exists are to teach students and develop learning for future generations and to research and create new knowledge,” Dakes said. “If students aren’t a part of that, as one of the primary reasons that the university exists, and do not have a voice in that, then I think there’s a huge missing piece in how we would chart the future for the school.”      

Through listening sessions, data collection and research, the strategic planning process works to turn ideas into changes within the business school.

Dakes attributes faculty separation from student perspectives as part of the need for increased student voice in changing policy. 

“For the most part, it has been many years since the faculty members have been students, and times are changing, so we want to make sure that we are leading things into a direction that’s aligned with the current needs and trends of students and the changing demographics,” Dakes said.

Holtz and O’Keeffe see SEBA as an important bridge between student and faculty voices. 

“We as students can work with administration to see the changes we desire,” Holtz said. “All it takes is a little engagement, action behind your beliefs, and joining a coalition like SEBA to fulfill that call to action.”

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