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Humanities Seminar Tackles the Challenges of Successful Planning
All modern institutions plan, but what does it take to avoid glitches and develop an effective plan? Scholars participating in Bentley University’s Humanities Research Seminar will look through a multidisciplinary lens at the logistics and logic behind planning. Slated to launch this fall with support from a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant, the unique initiative opens the door for collaboration among a diverse group of faculty and graduate students from top institutions.
“The goal of the seminar is not to explicitly come up with best practices for planning across various industries or impose a single outcome,” says Professor of History Cyrus Veeser, faculty coordinator of the seminar. “It is a larger conversation aimed at fostering exchange among people who would not normally be sitting around a table together and to flesh out commonalities as well as differences.”
Planning in all fields is subject to particular kinds of error, he adds. “Until very recently, planning — whether by governments, corporations, even nonprofits or multilateral agencies like the UN — has always been an elite activity, a process controlled by a small group of specialists or decision-makers. The result has been top-down decision making in many fields.”
The seminar theme — “Intended Consequences: The Historical and Contemporary Problematic of Planning” — recognizes the idea that planning comes with glitches and explores emerging correctives to elite planning. In urban and government planning, for example, “visioning” has been introduced as a way to incorporate more stakeholders in the process of thinking through what the on-the-ground results of a policy or program might be.
Bentley faculty and graduate students will be joined by colleagues from Boston University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of New Hampshire, University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Wellesley College. Participants will be grouped based on research interests and explore subthemes such as how UN agencies plan peacekeeping and environmental projects; big data and its implications; urban planning issues; planning policies of post-industrial cities; and government planning for natural and human disasters. Three Bentley undergraduate fellows — seniors Shannen Amicangioli and Alexandra Missirian, and junior Ryan Mailhot — will have an opportunity to work on a directed study project with a Bentley faculty participant.
Seminars usually are organized for a single discipline, or several very closely connected disciplines,” Veeser notes. “Crossing disciplinary borders can be very stimulating — even paradigm-shifting — to get a close reading of your work from someone in a totally different field.”
The seminar is presented by the Jeanne and Dan Valente Center for the Arts & Sciences at Bentley.
BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit www.bentley.edu.
Bentley University’s Co-Provost and Dean of Arts and Sciences Daniel Everett talked with us recently about a wide range of topics, including being featured in a new book by Tom Wolfe, two of his own upcoming books, the importance of studying the origins of language, and the value of a fusion approach to business education.