The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 10,000 mark last week for the first time in more than a year. What does this mean for the economy?
E-mail usage is waning in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and texting. What is the impact of this progression for business? How does this change the way we work and communicate?
These are the sort of conversation starters you might hear in “Understanding the Wall Street Journal,” a one-hour seminar class taught by Jerry Strawser, dean of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. The 12 students in the class, all first-semester freshmen, were probably relieved to hear there would be no textbooks, tests, or research papers for the course. It’s hardly a free ride, though. Instead of lectures, the format is much more interactive: students read the Wall Street Journal everyday, then meet once a week to discuss what is going on in the world.
Students are given grades at the end of the semester, and while it may be the only class Strawser teaches where his students don’t have to learn accounting principles for an A, the freshmen will hopefully finish the course with an approach to thinking about current events and business, as well as practicing classroom participation. “They can practice communication skills in a non-threatening environment,” says Strawser, who has students give oral reports on WSJ articles and write responses to editorials in addition to the classroom discussion of current events.
“It’s nice to get to participate in a class, instead of just being lectured to,” says Michael Andres ’13. Andres and his peers say they find the break from tests and papers to be refreshing, and they look forward to discussing real-world events in a small class setting each week.
Strawser’s class is one of 68 freshman seminar sections currently offered at A&M. The classes have 15 students or fewer in each class and concentrate on a topic suggested by a faculty member and approved by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Programs. Topics range from the science of surfing, to musical theater, to life on Mars. The classes are designed to give new college students a classroom setting where they feel comfortable speaking up and expressing their ideas, as well as building relationships with other students and a faculty member.