The day has arrived! The Youngstown, Ohio contingent of our Bridging the American Divide (“BTAD”) course – a semester-long Global Immersion class taught by professors Todd Jick and Bruce Usher – is set to depart today from New York to finally embark on the trip we’ve spent our semester preparing for.
For those reading this blog that may not be as familiar with what our class is all about, BTAD brings together MBA students here at CBS interested in gaining a better understanding of the causes and consequences of the deeply entrenched “American divide” and provides the framework to discuss ways we may help bridge it, both as citizens of our communities and as future business leaders. Our capstone class trips to Youngstown, Ohio and Decatur, Alabama serve as the ultimate opportunity to immerse ourselves in the frontlines of the issues we’ve attempted to tackle all semester and to provide learning experiences through the perspectives of the incredible community leaders, speakers, and representatives we’ll get to know over the course of the tip.
Throughout the semester, we’ve come to terms with our own individual political leanings and identified just how vast the divides are in this country across all identity spectrums; we’ve confronted the domestic consequences of international trade imbalances and automation as jobs that were once mainstays of America’s economy head oversees or are replaced by advancing technology; and we’ve examined the very painful reality of how systemic racism permeates every aspect of our society 55 years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act. When we meet with United Auto Workers displaced after the recent closures of GM auto factories throughout Mahoning County, or with Justin Jennings, CEO of Youngstown City School District, to understand how education in Youngstown has been affected by the changing socio-economic landscape of the city, or with executives from Vallourec, an international steel company, to tour a factory that has replaced so many of its former workers with advanced robotics, we’ll call upon the skills we’ve honed in the classroom to absorb and reflect upon the ways we can be bridges in this American Divide.
All 26 of us are excited and can’t wait to get started this evening on what will be one of the most impactful trips of our CBS experience. Youngstown, here we come!