One year after launching the successful Lifelong Learning Tour, we reflect on the experience and plans for its future.
By Abigail Raymond
From coast to coast and continent to continent, the Lifelong Learning Tour has been, by all accounts, a success.
Jorge Margain, WG’07, vice president of Tresalia Capital and past president of the Penn and Wharton Club of Mexico City, helped to host the master class taught by Mauro Guillen, the Dr. Felix Zandman Professor of International Management and the director of the Lauder Institute. “Uncertainty, Complexity, Volatility” was a hit with alumni in attendance, says Margain, because it explored the topic of Mexico’s role in the global economy.
“Everything was top level,” he stated, “and the room was packed. The Q&A section was incredibly active.”
Energy and engagement levels were high in Mexico because the Lifelong Learning Tour was fulfilling a primary objective: delivering tailored, relevant content. The Tour made 12 stops between Sept. 10, 2012, and Sept. 9, 2013. At each stop, Wharton staff ensured that programming answered and even anticipated the interests of the local alumni.
Laura Zarrow, GED’95, who heads up Lifelong Learning as senior project director of the Wharton Innovation Group, cites “Increasing Disaster Resilience,” the Jan. 29, 2013, event in New York City with Robert Meyer, as another excellent example.
Meyer, the Gayfryd Steinberg Professor and co-director of the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, is renowned for his work in catastrophe management.
“It was in the wake of the hurricane [Sandy], and it gave us a chance to highlight the cutting-edge research and outstanding teaching that happens in our faculty—but to bring it to our alumni in a way that’s really relevant to what they’re facing every day,” Zarrow says.
Zarrow also sees the Tour as a gateway for alumni to become involved with other Lifelong Learning programs, including its digital library of videos and webinars. The Tour is part of Wharton’s multidimensional approach to investing in the education of its students long term. “
We’ve continued our commitment to doing it for the coming year,” says Zarrow about the Tour. “We have picked another slate of cities where we’re trying to reach out to groups of alumni who we know would welcome Wharton coming to them.”
These will include “Beyond Digital” in São Paulo, Brazil, on Nov. 13, 2013, with Associate Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics Kevin Werbach, and “What is Success?” on Nov. 19 in New York City with G. Richard Shell, the Thomas Gerrity Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Management.
“I’m always glad for opportunities to share my research with our alumni,” says Werbach, who also taught the 2012 master class in Philadelphia about gamification. “Events like the Lifelong Learning Tour that put faculty in front of businesspeople are a win-win-win: for the alumni attending, the professor and our students. Having a chance to present to alumni who are out in the business world is a valuable reality check for me as a teacher.”
Writing after the Philly event on the Wharton Blog Network, Kristina Kohl, WG’88, president and executive director, sustainable strategy, at HRcomputes, reported: “Werbach is an engaging speaker, and the session provided a new business tool applicable in my world of sustainability.”
For Margain, the Mexico City event had added significance. Several MBA prospects attended, and Margain hopes that the quality of Guillen’s master class will help encourage more students from Mexico to apply to Wharton. That would mean more alumni to enjoy Lifelong Learning content.
Editor’s note: Watch videos of the Lifelong Learning Tour master classes (such as the one below from “The Road Ahead for Health Care Reform”) at the Wharton Lifelong Learning website.