Each course in the Meyer Business on the Frontlines Program (BOTFL) provides a unique experiential service learning opportunity.
At the end of a BOTFL 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 stability related problems working with local partners
• Develop increased sensitivity toward the impact of business in society
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 a course
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 community. 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-community contexts and the projects to bear upon these theories.
Phase 2: In-Community
The second phase takes place mid-semester, with teams traveling to their partner communities. Although much research can be accumulated early, the time in community 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 to the locally based partner.
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-community experiences, about the topics we discussed in class prior to departure? The experience in community 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.
Current Course Offerings:
Business on the Frontlines
Since 2008, Business on the Frontlines has worked on more than 50 projects in more than 25 countries focusing on the issues surrounding peace, deep poverty, and illicit economies. Working with both NGOs and for-profit businesses, teams of graduate students from the MBA program, Law School and Keough School work to develop practical solutions to help address these challenging topics, using the unique skills of business. This full semester course allows students to deeply engage with core themes of the dignity of work and the challenges of economic development, while digging deep into the unique setting of their specific project location. (8 credit, International)
Frontlines in America
Frontlines In America explores the challenges to the dignity of work in the United States, including prejudice, violence, drug addiction, breakdown of the family, poverty and many other factors. In this multi-disciplinary course, graduate student teams serve action-oriented partner organizations who are building livelihoods for those most vulnerable in our country. Utilizing the dynamic skills of business, Frontlines in America aims to create jobs and set the conditions for economic growth in order to promote societal change, stability, and opportunity. Teams focus on developing solutions from the ground up to support communities in their efforts to achieve new economic opportunities. (4 credit, Domestic)
During an International Frontline Engagement, students will put their problem solving skills to work on great challenges facing the Western Hemisphere while building upon and advancing the work done by teams in the Business on the Frontlines course. Through a small number of in class sessions and time in the field, students will partner with dynamic organizations to advance the causes of peace, stability, and economic development by leveraging the unique perspective of business to set the conditions for economic growth and job creation. (2 credit, International)
Ways of Rebuilding Community
Ways of Rebuilding Community brings the partner driven approach of Business on the Frontlines home to the local community surrounding Notre Dame's campus to address barriers to work and economic development. Throughout the course, students alternate between the classroom and the community to continue to deepen their knowledge of the challenges and to iterate on potetial solutions that leverage the skills of business to provide greater opportunity and dignity to our neighbors. (2 credit, domestic)