The MAGAM Quest to Perfect

Courtesy of Emily Wilcoxson

By Emily Wilcoxson, Guest Writer 

Even though none of us will ever attain perfection, I believe we should all aim for it. Why should we aim for something that there’s little possibility in achieving you ask? Because at least that means we strived for the very best. If you set your bar low, you will most assuredly reach your goal, but will you have attained anything substantially great? At Thunderbird, I believe to be the very best we must raise our standards as high as they can go—both for our own personal futures and for the future of Thunderbird and for T-Birds who will come after us.

This motto and thinking are what propelled me to undertake the TSG MAGAM Academic Affairs Chair position.

Aiming for perfection, I set out to do my part in improving the MAGAM experience to my fullest potential. I knew that the MAGAMs of the 2017 class advocated for us to have better, and I believe we should be doing the same for future students as well. The fruit of all our labor is already being seen in the changes in curriculum for the new cohort of MA students.

I act as the voice of the MAGAM students and the liaison between them and the administration. Wherever there is a need for improvement, it is the Academic Affairs Chair’s job to relay that message in the hopes that it is received and then acted on. The MAGAM Academic Affairs Chair deals with any issue under the sun that affects the student throughout their time at Thunderbird. My goal for the semester was to gain as many perspectives on any topic that students had concerns about. To do this, I set out to conduct a series of roundtables and surveys for both MAGAM first and second years to partake in. Issues for improvement ranged from the curriculum, electives, scheduling, professors, CMC, and admissions.

Courtesy of Emily Wilcoxson

One of the main issues we have been focusing on and will continue to focus on is the curriculum. The curriculum will never be nor should it ever be static. It needs to continually evolve as market demands change, and not every course can be successful. Specific changes made for the incoming MAGAMs is that their curriculum and their professors are a lot different than our years’ were. The new cohort will not have any School of Global Studies (SGS) courses, which were a source of tension for previous years. Instead, they will have only Thunderbird Global Management (TGM) courses, and a Regional Business Environment class was added to their curriculum as well. Furthermore, the survey and roundtable responses will help shape what kind of electives the future MAGAMs will see.

Other issues we are working on is incorporating more hard-skills and digital learning into classes. For example, we’ve discussed instilling a standard that all classes must have some kind of case study, simulation, applied learning or analytical aspect incorporated into the class. These are just a few of the main examples we discussed but much more came up and were relayed to the academic gods as well. Many of the issues come down to communication and so we discussed a lot of ways communication can improve between students, administration, professors and CMC so that we all form a cohesive and stronger unit

My hope for future cohorts is that they utilize their voice and work with the TSG chairs and administration so that continual progress is achieved and that the quest for perfection goes on. I don’t think students realize the power they have sometimes and that if they band together and advocate for change, change will happen. I often hear the sentiment that there is no point to voice our opinion because it does not make any effect, and I wholeheartedly disagree with that logic. We are the students are Thunderbird, without us, there is no school. That is a power we must leverage, and it is that power that I, as the MAGAM Academic Affairs Chair, want to encourage.

I also encourage any MAGAMs who want to discuss any aspect of the program to reach out to me personally at emily.wilcoxson@tbird.asu.edu. I am all open ears!

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