New Strategic Foresight Course Prepares GWSB Students to Lead

July 06, 2020

The latest offering in the Global & Experiential Education (G&EE) Business & Society Series, Strategic Foresight was designed to help students develop the long-term future thinking capacities required of today’s leaders. The intensive online course taught by futurist Thomas Debass, managing director for global partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, blended integrated case analysis and trend examination with virtual site visits. 

Business & Society Series courses examine the broad societal arena in which businesses operate with particular focus on political, economic and cultural environments. Professor Debass’ class conducted foresighting exercises to examine the future of several industries, including education, energy, food and agriculture, healthcare and space.

screenshot - GWSB Professor Thomas Debass teaches an online class

Professor Thomas Debass (top) with some of his students (pictured clockwise from bottom left): Lauren Miller, Cynthia Cook, Yejide Olutosin, Ralph Tyler, Kasey Chen, Shreyas Bhatnagar, Kaan Yamanturk, and Ashley Delamater.

Throughout the four-day course June 17-20, students explored how organizations invent the future. Students had the opportunity to connect virtually with foresight practitioners and thought leaders in relevant industries, think tanks, and public institutions. Engagement with a diversity of accomplished guest speakers is a hallmark of the Business & Society Series and is identified by students as a highlight of their participation. This was the case this summer with one student stating, “The guest speakers were the most rewarding aspect of this course. They are all successful and showed us how the course topic can be applied and pushed in a business or other real world settings. Having access to these speakers is extremely valuable.”

screenshot - a Strategic Foresight online class discussion

Guest speakers (pictured clockwise from top left): Kara Cunzeman, Senior Project Leader for Strategic Foresight, Center for Space Policy and Strategy at The Aerospace Corporation; Leland Melvin, Retired NASA astronaut; Madebo Fatunde, Foresight Strategist and Writer; Dr. Asif Dhar, Vice Chairman and US Life Sciences and Health Care Industry Leader at Deloitte; Kyle Nel, Executive Vice President, Uncommon Partners Lab at Singularity University; Dr. Glenn Platt, Department Chair & C. Michael Armstrong Chair in Emerging Technology & Marketing at Miami University; Samuel Alemayehu, Global Managing Director at Cambridge Industries Ltd. and co-chair of Moonee Investment Group; and Sylvester John, Vice President, Customer Product Innovation at Walmart.

Upon reflecting on his participation in the class, which also happened to be the last of his MBA studies, Shreyas Bhatnagar (‘20), regional manager with the Federal Railroad Administration, shared, “The depth of knowledge and critical thinking skills shared in this class tops that of any other class taken at GWU. My classmates and I now understand the dynamics of strategizing and how organizations invent the future. As a result, we are now capable of using and applying foresight to map an organizational trend for the future.”

Another student also noted the immediate practical application of their learning, “The futurist mindset and models discussed in class are something I'm currently applying to problems at work. The ability to pull directly from the classroom and into a work setting is exactly what I want and need.”

Students interested in learning about future Business & Society Series offerings are encouraged to follow G&EE for new course announcements and updates. 

Faculty interested in teaching in the Business & Society Series can email Sarah LaRosa, Assistant Director, Global & Experiential Education at [email protected] to discuss the course development process.