Four teams of Notre Dame graduate students from the MBA, peace studies and law programs recently spent two weeks studying the impact of business in the post-conflict societies of Guatemala, Ethiopia, Egypt and Mindanao in the Philippines.
The class, “Business on the Frontlines,” is taught by Viva Bartkus, associate professor of management at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and a faculty fellow of the Kroc Institute.
Having spent weeks in the classroom studying development economics, politics, philosophy, and business, the students divided into four groups. Each team worked on a specific peace and business-related project that had been defined by the field partner, Catholic Relief Services.
•In Guatemala, students focused on an agricultural project involving a business plan for a coop to expand from coffee to bananas.
•In Ethiopia, students worked with the Catholic Secretariat of Hararghe to strengthen its internal human resources and finance systems in order to assist its millions of beneficiaries.
•In the Philippines, students explored the extractive industries in Mindanao, where mining affects land rights, property rights, labor rights, human rights, and peacebuilding.
•In Egypt, students developed a plan to launch business-nongovernmental organization partnerships to create internships for unemployed, educated youth.
Field visits were coordinated by Catholic Relief Services, which works in more than 100 countries. In previous years, students in the class have traveled to Bosnia, Lebanon, Kenya, Rwanda, Mindanao, and Uganda. They develop business plans and recommendations that Catholic Relief Services can implement in local settings.
While in the field this year, students contributed photos and lessons learned to the “Business on the Front Lines” blog.