Bringing Real-World Workplace Challenges to the Classroom
assistant professor of business law
“I really like challenging my students and seeing them rise to that challenge. It’s also really gratifying to get those e-mails after graduation that say ‘hey, look what I’m doing now.'"
As part of his honors course L293 Legal Environment of Business, Jamie Prenkert uses role-playing to teach his students about discrimination in the work place. He walks into the class as the vice president of human resources for a company called L293 Industries and tells the class that the company has received a charge of discrimination from one of its workers. He instructs his “employees” to investigate the charge, summarize the issue, and write up a report with recommendations about how the company should proceed.
To make the situation even more real, Prenkert’s wife plays the role of the “victim,” a low-level marketing employee who claims she has been subjected to sexual harassment for two years. The class spends a day interviewing her and hearing her story—and then it’s up to each student to decide who’s right and who’s wrong. “This is not a case with clear-cut outcomes,” says Prenkert. “I’m really interested in my students’ recommendations based on their research. My goal is to show them the ambiguity that is inherent in this environment—especially when you’re dealing with humans and their memories.”