Abe Zakhem, Ph.D., associate professor within the College of Arts and Sciences, and Elizabeth McCrea, Ph.D., associate professor within the Stillman School of Business, have been awarded another highly competitive National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to establish a minor in business humanities at the University. The program will be the first of its kind in the United States.
The grant will enable Seton Hall faculty to continue the work already undertaken as part of their "Business Humanities Initiative," for which they received a NEH Humanities Connections planning grant in 2019. One of only 28 education awards, the current grant is part of the same Humanities Connection program, which seeks to expand the role of the humanities in undergraduate curriculums at two- and four-year institutions.
Together, the faculty will collaborate on the development and implementation of the proposed interdisciplinary minor, in line with major curricular objectives outlined in Seton Hall's strategic plan, Harvest Our Treasures.
"This highly competitive NEH grant helps establish Seton Hall University as a leader in the emerging and critical field of business humanities," said Zakhem. "Funding from the grant will help us develop courses and programs that strengthen our commitment to a robust and innovative liberal arts-based education at Seton Hall."
Over the next two years, Zakhem and McCrea will drive the implementation of the minor, including development of new courses, incorporating experiential learning opportunities as well as education on the importance of business humanities as an emerging field of study.
In the grant proposal, Zakhem and McCrea emphasized the need, and benefit, of the humanities to help cultivate humanistic leaders and establish ethical business practices:
Among other things, the humanities promote moral awareness, empathy, and imagination, foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, cultivate emotional and cultural intelligence, and help to develop critical, adaptive, and innovative thinkers. Likewise, a business education provides students with skills to better understand and effectively analyze, plan, organize, and lead organizations and/or movements that can, if run ethically… generate other positive ethical outcomes. Integrating the two fields helps students envision, critically evaluate, design, and implement effective solutions to complex moral problems in business and society.
"The minor will convey to the larger academic and professional community that studying the humanities and business together is intrinsically and extrinsically valuable and vitally important for producing ethical, socially responsible, and effective leaders, on and off the job," noted Zakhem.
Professor McCrea agreed, "The separation of the humanities from business is artificial and detrimental. As so many scholars have noted, 'business is a humanity' and the notion that the humanities and business represent separate spheres of discourse reflects a fallacy rife with the potential for pernicious impact. Business is a large part of life and the benefit of seeing it expressly through that lens is both great and vitally important."