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Class participates in ConvergeUs

Aubrey Butts | Thursday, October 13, 2011

Students in the Fundamentals of Business Thinking class participated in the inaugural ConvergeUs forum this week, a unique conference uniting members of the technology and service sectors.

Students who participated in the forum used lessons from the classroom to understand and consider solutions for the prominent social concerns identified by the conference.

Senior John McCabe said he was excited to participate in ConvergeUS.

“It’s neat to be forward-thinking and look for substantive change rather than being stuck just reading a textbook,” he said. “This is the only class where I have ever had so much outside classroom experience, and Professor Sucec [the Fundamentals of Business Thinking instructor] really tries to provide us with these learning opportunities.”

Sucec said he was also excited about his class’s involvement with the conference.

“Students have the opportunity to be involved in a project which comingles relevant business issues with critical social concerns,” Sucec said. “In addition, they have the opportunity to come into contact with educators and successful entrepreneurs … (and) see how they attempt to deal with very prominent issues in the marketplace.”

Senior Patrick Kelly said he enjoyed learning about new technology through the forum.

“It’s a really good opportunity for us to understand social innovation and the leading technology within social innovation,” Kelly said. “There is a lot of new technology, which is really exciting. It’s a very unique opportunity to view a relatively new initiative.”

McCabe and Kelly, who are working together on a project for the class, have chosen to address the youth reading initiative.

“Learning should be enjoyable and fun, not something to be afraid of, and I believe the prevalence of technology in the classrooms will help bring back this enjoyment,” McCabe said.

McCabe also said he embraced the approach of ConvergeUS toward solving social issues.

“ConvergeUS is committed to a blueprint, which is different than a lot of nonprofits who have a vision but not necessarily a means to get them to fruition,” he said.

Kelly said the blueprint method would be important for the pair’s class project.

“Our goal is to provide a blueprint with a creative approach, which would ideally lead to a significant and feasible solution to implement and address some of the social problems surrounding the deficit in America’s youth reading programs,” Kelly said.

Professor Charles Crowell, director of the CAPP program, said he views the class’s involvement with ConvergeUS both as an important opportunity for students in the class and the University’s social concerns in general.

“It gives the class the opportunity to partner, right now in a very limited sense but hopefully in a larger sense eventually, with a company geared toward solving social issues,” he said. “It’s a very important partnership and another opportunity for ND students to apply their time, talent and energy to important social issues.”

The partnership between ConvergeUS and Notre Dame naturally developed from their shared social concerns, Crowell said.

“If there ever was a University tailor-made to address these issues, it is Notre Dam