Gabelli School of Business Ground Floor Course Provides First-Year Students With an Entry Point Into the World of Business and its Power to Move Society Forward
Undergraduate | Dec 21, 2022 | Gabelli School of Business
By Paola Curcio-Kleinman
The Gabelli School of Business is focused on enlightening students—from their first semester on campus—about the ways in which businesses can positively impact communities and society at large. A prime example of this is the School’s Ground Floor course, which is required to be taken by all first-year students and focuses heavily on challenging and inspiring them to launch their journey of discovery into the business world and its power to do good.
The Ground Floor course offers a rigorous curriculum that immerses students in the learning experience by challenging them in multiple ways. They are exposed to presentations by discipline-specific Gabelli School faculty members and guest lecturers throughout the semester; are responsible for individual work deliverables, including four business-thinking essays based upon business-related current events; and are responsible for team-based deliverables including developing a new business idea and writing a business plan which, in the fall (when most students take the course), culminates in the PVH “Ground Floor Challenge” competition. The Challenge requires them to create a new business product/service, concentrating on developing a business plan that incorporates one or more socially innovative or socially responsible approaches for conducting business.
“The Ground Floor course is quite rigorous and demanding, but it is also fun. It helps new students to acclimate to the demands of a college environment, while instilling in them a sense of the ways they can use their newly acquired expertise to change the world,” commented Robert Daly, assistant dean and Ground Floor course coordinator.
This unique, immersive and highly interactive learning experience includes a special section focused on best practices in Community Engagement Learning (CEL), while providing a deep introduction to business. Students have the opportunity to gain insights from senior-level executives working at community-based organizations, as well as the Gabelli School’s CEL-focused faculty members. They also are introduced to Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and the importance of working inclusively in an environment in which each perspective is considered in pursuit of common goals. Students benefit from all of the Ground Floor courses in addition to engaging with a variety of guest lecturers whose presentations they distill down into written assignments to ensure they grasp and are able to apply what they have learned.
“At the core of this Gabelli experience—from the ESG factors we discuss to the stakeholder capitalism we explore—is the goal of ensuring that students learn to conduct ‘business with purpose,’” said Bill Sickles, who teaches the special CEL course. “We take them directly out into the community on walking tours of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District to help build their understanding of the ways in which even locally owned businesses can have a tremendous impact on the community.”
Sickles, a former Google executive who also has decades of leadership experience in radio advertising sales and in communications, in addition to a wealth of international marketing experience, serves on the Gabelli School of Business Advisory Board and is a member of the Executive Committee. He and a blend of full-time Gabelli faculty members and adjunct professors with extensive experience in the finance, marketing and accounting fields, share their knowledge with students through the Ground Floor course, knowing that they can make a difference in the business careers and lives of those they teach.