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MCOB prof. Mish embraces diverse spirituality

Nora Kenney | Tuesday, October 5, 2010

For Jennifer Mish, a Mendoza College of Business marketing professor, working at Notre Dame allows her to apply her interests in both spirituality and sustainability to her job.

Now in her second year at Notre Dame, Mish said she focuses her research and teaching on sustainability.  In addition to teaching a survey marketing class for all business majors, she also teaches an elective course about marketing and sustainability.

“Sustainability is often defined as living today in such a way that future generations are not compromised. Consumption rates are increasing, yet the earth’s resources are finite,” Mish said. “We know that our current market system isn’t sustainable, and that our future system must become sustainable. What we don’t know is how we will get there.”

Mish said both her research and her elective course focus on how marketing will change and play a role in a sustainable future.

“Almost every company is grappling with some aspect of this issue, but it’s so new that we don’t yet understand it very well,” she said.

Mish said she finds Notre Dame to be a great atmosphere for generating the type of vigor needed to approach these questions. 

“Notre Dame is a wondrous and unique place, where big, challenging questions are asked regularly and sincerely, and where the great ND family network reaches around the world,” she said. “I am honored to be a part of the ND tradition, and the Mendoza College of Business.”

She also said that Notre Dame was a good fit for her spiritually, even though she personally does not restrict her spiritual life to Catholicism. 

“I love being at a Catholic university that is so embracing of diversity,” Mish said. “My spiritual life is eclectic. I have found great benefit from practicing a number of faiths and spiritual traditions, including Buddhism.”

She also said her spirituality inspires her to use integrity and inquiry in her research and teaching.

“I love the truth, and it is sometimes mysterious,” she said. “I feel immeasurably blessed to be able to pursue truth using the scientific method in my work, and also to pursue truth within, using methods from many times and cultures.”

Mish studied geography as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, and went on to earn her MBA at the University of Montana and her Ph.D at the University of Utah. 

Yet learning in the classroom only scratches the surface of Mish’s educational experiences.  She said her love of learning came from her family.

“My grandmother was a psychology professor at a time when her employment contract said that she couldn’t marry or have children,” she said. “My mother established a recycling center when most people thought it was a ridiculous idea. It takes courage to trust our truest perceptions and values. This courage is so needed now in the world.”

These examples from her family, paired with her passion for education and for the earth, led Mish to take time off after her high school graduation to work on fire crews for two years for the United States Forest Service. 

Mish said her most important message to students would be to find challenging experiences for themselves.

“Find ways to have experiences and learn about the parts of life that take you out of your comfort zone, that you will not encounter otherwise,” she said. “Honor your deepest truths. 

Ask yourself every day how your life helps or hinders the

lives of those to come.”