We learn about our accomplished and talented business school classmates by asking them lots of questions. We ask them about the countries they’re from, the cities they’ve lived in, the kind of work they did before business school, and what they hope to do when they graduate. One question is hardly ever asked though: the question about what they believe.
This year, three events at Kellogg have made me stop and think about the role of faith in my business school experience. The first was the celebration of Catholic Mass & Dinner hosted by Prof. Kraemer, one of our rockstar professors at Kellogg. Oh and did I mention that we have a catholic priest as a member of the Kellogg class of 2015? He was recently named the spanish translator to the Vatican. Cool right? Anyways, I digress…
The second event was the Dinner on faith and leadership organized by Dean Sally. I really enjoyed the awesome food (no kidding) and the opportunity to hear the dean of a top business school share her personal faith experience, and answer questions around how her faith influences her role as a business leader. The third Kellogg event was the multi-faith panel panel on faith and business leadership that was part of Mosaic Week, a week-long celebration of global diversity at Kellogg. Two things stood out for me at all these events. First, a significant number of Kellogg students admit that their faith has played (and continues to play) a significant role in shaping their life choices and their values. Second, some Kellogg students who currently aren’t people of faith are actually curious and want to learn more about the various religions of their classmates.
If our different faiths have significantly shaped some of us, while others are simply curious about faith, why don’t we talk about faith and religion more often, or even at all?! I can think of two main reasons:
1. Some people are not interested in religion and do not want to be ‘preached’ to, or told how they should live their life.
2. It could get messy: We all believe different things, and talking about all those differences might become confrontational. We don’t want to bring all that ugliness into business school, or Kellogg for that matter!
I think there is some merit to both arguments. I also think that the culture of open communication and mutual respect which helps us to work through the facts of multiple business school cases can also be successfully applied to discussing topics that revolve around faith. My guess is that many people of faith at Kellogg will use a conversation about their faith as a way to allow their classmates to know them more, instead of as an opportunity to tell them how to live.
I personally would like to learn more about the faiths of my classmates. I would also like to share my own faith with those who are interested in learning more about Christianity and Catholicism. I currently don’t have a lot of great ideas about how to do this, but one idea I have is this: when people ask me how I spent my weekend, I no longer just talk about the movies I saw, and friends I spent time with. I also talk about the time I spent at Sunday mass, and anyone who’s interested can ask me more questions about my faith, and some actually do!
That’s what I think. What do you think?