Course Overview

Business on the Front Lines (BOTFL) examines the impact of business on rebuilding post conflict
societies through service to local partners.

At the end of this course, students should be able to: 

•    Define a problem in highly uncertain environments from a set of ambiguous information
•    Work effectively and professionally in different cultural environments
•    Drive impact on business and peace related problems working with local partners
•    Develop increased sensitivity toward the impact of business in society 

Serving Partners 

In the past, students have had the opportunity to add value to our partners’ initiatives by engaging in the following activities:

•    Investigative Research—Teams conduct research on specific industries, problems or issues both in-country and at Notre Dame to provide varying viewpoints on the issues.
•    Interviews—Teams are equipped and trained to meet and interview individuals in various industries. Past teams have given our partners the opportunity to meet with individuals and organizations that they might not normally interact with.
•    Analysis—Teams prepare financial analysis on various business opportunities. The output of these has provided our partners with initial decision metrics, as well as possible partnerships opportunities.
•    Business Model Development—Teams develop business and partnership models for our partners within specific opportunity areas.
•    Teams provide a new and different perspective that our partners might not develop internally.
•    Teams provide an opportunity for training for our partners’ local staff.

Three Phases of BOTFL

Phase 1: Deep Dive

Phase 1 is based on the philosophy that complex problems must be approached from multiple angles, and that these must be considered in the unique context of each country. In this phase, we tackle the complex challenges driving each project by considering how different theories and perspectives might inform the particulars of each context. In-class sessions will cover economics, philosophy, political science, law, peace studies, and business perspectives. Students will bring their independent research about the in-country contexts and the projects to bear upon these theories.

Phase 2: In-Country

The second phase takes place during inter-term. Although much research can be accumulated early, the time in country provides the most opportunities for fact-finding and research. The concept is for a total immersion into a complex situation, at the end of which the BOTFL team will present a tentative recommendation.

Phase 3: Delivery and Reflection

The third phase has three parts. The first is the completion of the project. The second is documenting project work that will improve the course for the next BOTFL. Lastly the third involves reflection. What do we think now, given our in-country experiences, about the topics we discussed in class prior to departure? The experience in-country is one that is likely to leave a lasting impression. This is a unique experience that often takes a great deal of time for its full impact to be realized. It is during this third stage that students and faculty have the opportunity to individually and communally digest the experience.

The student application for BOTFL will be available during the Fall Term.