Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

Written by Danner Doud-Martin, IBD Associate Director

I had the privilege for the third consecutive year of representing Berkeley Haas at the Leaders of Experiential Project-Based Education (LEPE) Conference in June 2019.  LEPE brings together higher education faculty and administrative staff who work on action learning based curriculum and programs. The Conference consisted of three days of networking, workshop sessions, panels and small group discussions, all focused on the pedagogy of experiential learning.  The LEPE Conference location changes year to year, and each hosting school takes the opportunity to show off their school and city. This year’s Conference was hosted by NYU Stern, and as you can imagine, there was much to see and do in Manhattan.  

2019 LEPE Group photo

Participating Universities and Colleges:

Currently LEPE is made up of a small but growing group of business school participants, and this year 33 unique universities were represented at the Conference.  The list of participating schools attending this year’s Conference included Harvard Business School, Michigan Ross, MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth, UCLA Anderson and others.  Two international business school representatives were also in attendance: IESE Business School in Barcelona, and Singapore Management University.  

Small Group conversations at LEPE
Small Group conversations at LEPE

LEPE’s goals and mission:

Although the official mission of LEPE is still being finalized, the Conference’s goal is to have participants learn and share best practices, gain professional development and tools, learn to advocate for experiential project-based learning as a pedagogy, and set standards for programs and courses.  This year’s LEPE Conference achieved this and offered much more. I loved the insights shared by participants in the larger sessions, but it was the smaller conversations that benefited me the most. As in previous years, I returned from the LEPE Conference with new ideas on how we might adopt a different tact or strategy to make our IBD program even better than it is.  I was able to hear how other business school programs operate, what they do to ensure the highest level of learning by their students, and how they measure program success. Additionally, it has been fun and valuable to get to know other folks from different business schools, and to build industry-wide relationships on a professional and personal level. Over the years I have been able to utilize these relationships by reaching out for industry advice and counsel.  

Washington Square Park- NYC
Washington Square Park- NYC

Lots of great speakers:

Each year the LEPE Conference presenters prove to be engaging and informative.  One of my favorite panels at this year’s Conference was led by three librarians from NYU Stern, Michigan Ross, and Emory Goizueta.  “You can lead a horse to water” focused on the benefits of quality research, and how providing support, resources, and techniques to students will lead to more impactful projects.  Panelists advocated for students to go beyond ”googling” and work toward finding multiple high-quality sources. Students tend to get stuck on a few sources that are skewed toward the answer they think is correct.   Having touch points with the business school librarians plays a huge part in the success of quality resources. We have wonderful librarians at Berkeley Haas, and I left the LEPE Conference thinking about ways to encourage our students to engage with them more during the IBD program.  

New York City Library celebrating Stonewall 50th anniversary

Fun at LEPE:

Over the last three years I have enjoyed experiencing the different cities that host the LEPE Conference. In 2017 the LEPE Conference was hosted at Darden University in Virginia; last year it was hosted at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.   This year’s Conference host, NYU Stern, is located in Greenwich Village, and I found myself walking daily through Washington Square to the NYU campus and Conference site. Even though it rained for the majority of my time in New York, I spent a number of hours walking along the city streets, enjoying the people, the sights, and the hot and muggy June weather.  On the final evening of the LEPE Conference, NYU Stern hosted a harbor cruise around Manhattan. The skies finally parted as we boarded the boat, and from there the views of the city and the Statue of Liberty were absolutely spectacular. 

New York City view during harbor tour
Danner enjoying the NYC view during harbor tour

Austin 2020

Next year the LEPE Conference will be hosted by the University of Texas at Austin.  Having never visited Austin, I am looking forward to experiencing this unique city. But I am even more excited about getting together with the exceptional people I have met and befriended during the last three years of LEPE Conferences! 

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