This blog post is authored by Gokcen Coskuner-Balli, faculty in the Marketing Department of Arygros School of Business and Economics (ASBE). 

In mid-March Chapman University among other schools across the country and the world moved to online education due to the COVID-19 social distancing measures. As faculty members we found ourselves preoccupied with how to set up an online class via Zoom, how to give exams and prevent students cheating on online exams, how to record our lectures and how to adjust to online education and still meet our pedagogical goals.

As we are settling into this new form of teaching in the midst of the global pandemic, some of us also started to reflect on bigger questions and implications of COVID-19 for our respective fields. We are asking ourselves and encouraging students to ask themselves what kinds of impacts this global crisis has.

Here are some highlights from how ASBE faculty are incorporating Coronavirus related content into their classes:

In her undergraduate Business Analytics course, Charu Sinha converted one of their assignments to study the application of analytics techniques, specifically data visualization and spreadsheet design modeling, in the COVID-19 context.  The assignment required students to research on “flattening of the curve” to explain what information the visual conveys.  Students also researched the basic reproduction number for COVID-19 and the significance of the “denominator” as discussed within the health care community in relation to projecting the spread of the infection and mortality rate.  The underlying goal was to have students appreciate the importance of having reliable input data to build useful models and the challenges often encountered in securing solid input data.

In her management course, Amy Hanson created a discussion board with students where they have to post a link to video or article on how leaders are responding to COVID-19 and discuss the leadership styles. This discussion was helpful for students to observe interesting examples of both positive and negative leadership.

In her Organization Behavior course, Cristina Giannantonio asked students to investigate a company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and relate that response to the OB outcome variables they have been discussing this semester. The students were given the option to report on a company that is having difficulties (e.g. furloughs, layoffs, bankruptcies, etc.) or that is doing well and reflects positivity (e.g. donating supplies, making masks, changing their product offerings, providing alternative delivery methods, etc.).

Paul Lu has incorporated a few COVID-19 related topics in his classes. In the Global Management class, Paul invited guest speakers from industry to share the impacts of COVID-19 in their industry and the economy. A speaker from a U.S. firm and a speaker representing a Chinese firm were invited to speak so share different views and perspective. In his Operations Management class, Paul created an in-class discussion as well as team project on risk management. The topic was COVID-19 or similar disruptors may occur again, with this in mind, what are the lessons learned from COVID-19 from a business management perspective? What are some of the lessons learned? In the Information Systems class, Paul held discussions on ways to utilize IS and IT to manage the constraints associated with COVID-19. Students were asked to consider how IS and IT can be utilized as tools for workarounds, substitutes, or replacements for tools that firms can no longer employ. In essence, we understand it is not business as usual. However, what may be ways technology can enable as much of business as usual as possible.

In his business analytics class, Shahryar Doosti created a discussion board dedicated to the role of data analytics and AI in the fight against COVID-19. The class explored different paths including various ways of simulating the growth of Coronavirus and using data-oriented techniques for targeted restrictions by contact tracing. This will help the students reflect on different simulation techniques and discuss theories and methods incorporated in predicting the spread of the Coronavirus. Additionally, Dr. Doosti provided a real data set about COVID-19 patients’ medical info for the students to analyze hospitalization and discharge rate for the affected patients.

In my Advertising and Promotions Strategy course, I asked my students to collect and analyze COVID-19 themes ads. This helped students to reflect on the range of responses brands are adopting to the pandemic and how they are trying to preserve or extend on their value proposition. For my graduate Consumer Behavior course, I am encouraging the MBA students to deliberate on the sociological aspects of the Coronavirus where the students are asked to ponder on how consumers rituals and consumption patterns are changing, or how social class and gender inequalities are contributing to potential differences in consumer experiences.

Through their reflections we are considering the role of the pandemic for the overall economy and considering strategic implications for organizational behavior, management and marketing. By incorporating these assignments, exercises and discussions in our classes we encourage our students to put their theoretical knowledge to use and hope that these intellectual conversation will help them make better sense of all the complex dynamics caused by the pandemic.