June 29, 2009 — When James Clawson, a professor at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, attended the annual conference of the Organizational Behavior Teaching Society, held June 10-13 in Charleston, S.C., his plan was to collaborate on giving doctoral students a lesson in teaching, deliver the opening conference speech and be part of a distinguished panel of experts.
For his efforts, he received a standing ovation and two awards.
At a pre-conference doctoral institute, Clawson spent several days with faculty from Stanford and Babson teaching newly minted doctoral students "how to teach." There were 10 enrollees from all over the country, some just beginning their doctoral programs, some at thesis stage, and some who were starting their first academic jobs.
"It was a very diverse and engaging group," Clawson said. "Several said they learned more about teaching in those few days than ever before."
The participants developed a model of learning from the seminar, attended 48 conference sessions and then reported their assessments in a "feedback session" on the last day.
The theme of this year's conference was "From good teaching to good learning," and Clawson was asked to deliver the opening session's keynote speech. At the end of two hours, during which he discussed how most people's lives are a series of happenings that never become experiences because they don't "digest" them; and about creating world-class experiences in the classroom, the 350 attendees gave him a spontaneous standing ovation with cheers. He said it was a "humbling and powerful experience."
Later in the week, Clawson participated in a panel discussion on the future of the organizational behavior field, related to recent events such as revelations of corporate greed and fraud as well as a number of Ponzi schemes. He emphasized three major concerns: one, the overrated concept of corporate character and the need for oversight and transparency; two, an apparent emerging "Culture of Extraction" that seems to pervade current business models and MBA students; and three, B-school tendencies to teach formulaic approaches to managing.
During the conference, Clawson was awarded the "David L. Bradford Educator of the Year" award, something he considers to be the pinnacle of his professional achievements. He also was one of the first seven members cited as "Sages of the Society."
The Organizational Behavior Teaching Society is dedicated to innovative teaching and learning in the organizational and management sciences. Members include faculty at universities and colleges throughout the world, as well as business educators and consultants in the profit and non-profit sectors.
Founded in 1955, the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business is a professional school that improves society by developing principled leaders for the world of practical affairs.