Within The Broad College of Business, students in Nicholas Hays’ negotiations class (Management 475), are making a big impact within the Lansing community and beyond. Teams of students partnered with local organizations to develop a community outreach program. Each program is designed to benefit the group’s organization of choice. Six groups were formed to help six organizations within the community.
“I wanted to design an opportunity for students in my negotiations class to get hands-on experience negotiating with people and, at the same time, do something that benefits others. In these projects, the students selected a social issue they cared about and found organizations in the area who were willing to work together on a student-led project,” Hays said.
“Students had to negotiate with their group members over the type of project to pursue, with their community partners over what deliverables would be most valuable for the organization but were also realistic for busy students to accomplish, and in some cases students negotiated with local businesses for donations of goods or services,” he explained.
- Group one chose to team up with the Heartwood School to raise funds for the Hearts of Fun Playground Project, a space designed for children with physical and cognitive challenges. The playground will serve as a safe environment, promoting fun learning in an outdoor classroom. The park will be accessible to the greater community as well. To help raise funds, the group organized and promoted a fundraiser at a local restaurant, and a portion of the proceeds went to the playground project.
- The second group worked alongside the City of East Lansing’s Environmental Services and Commission on the Environment. The group put together a tool kit to advise multi-unit housing on the requirements and expectations that are necessary to accomplish a recycling program in their facility. In doing so, they hoped to bridge the disconnect between trash and recycling service providers and property managers. To accomplish this, the group conducted a survey to gauge the knowledge and interest of residents in the prime housing units about recycling. The end goal was to enable the city’s recycling subcommittee to install a pilot program that supports a city ordinance to mandate recycling at these dwellings. The tool kit the group issued included a form property managers could leverage in other commercial settings to implement recycling programs.
- The third group partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing, and built upon the organization’s SMART Move Program (Skills Mastery and Resilience Training) to talk to 20 pre-teens about bullying, bullying prevention, and mental health. To further provide care and knowledge to the organization, the group developed pamphlets with similar information to be kept at the facility and passed out to parents.
- The fourth group worked with the Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter to promote a vaccination clinic. The group not only promoted the event, but also raised awareness for the organization and promoted volunteer opportunities for animal lovers.
- The Grand Ledge Fledge, an “incubator, accelerator, maker place for people of all ages, experiences, and disciplines” worked with the fifth group. The Fledge includes a music studio, art studio, an area for video production, and shared spaces. Group five developed contracts on behalf of the Fledge to reach agreements with third-parties vendors, such as bands planning concerts at The Fledge.
- The sixth group partnered with The Garden Project, which provides access to land, how-to education, free seeds and plants, tool lending, a networking hub and more to enable community members to have access to fresh and healthy food sources. The organization currently supports a network of more than 125 community gardens, as well as 400 home gardens, that have helped to feed over 7,000 people to date. The group developed marketing materials to promote The Garden Project, explaining the mission and opportunities the organization offers, and distributed the handout at local elementary schools in Lansing.
“I was impressed by the scope of the projects selected by the students, and by the results. Students saw firsthand how often people need to negotiate at work and in their personal lives, and this reinforced the concepts they learned in the classroom. Many of the students commented on how much they appreciated the opportunity to put their newly learned skills to work in a way that benefits the local community, rather than simply attending lectures, taking tests, and writing papers. I definitely hope to include group projects like these in my negotiations courses in the future,” Hays said.