SLAMM Forward: Re-envisioning the School of Liberal Arts Management Minor

SLAMs new program director Ryder Thornton, speaks with a prospective student

Now in its fifth year, the School of Liberal Arts Management Minor (SLAMM) is carefully reviewing the program’s curriculum to better equip students with advanced skills as they begin their careers.

“As with any new program, five years is a great time to examine and review what needs to be updated,” explains Elisabeth McMahon, a professor of history and chair of the task force for SLAMM. “The committee, which began meeting in August, is coming together to think about what particular toolkits will be useful for students and will help them to better accomplish their goals as they graduate.”

SLAMM is one of the largest minors on Tulane’s campus, with about six percent of the entire undergraduate student body enrolled. While the minor is housed within the School of Liberal Arts, about one third of the students enrolled in SLAMM have declared majors in the Schools of Public Health, Science and Engineering, and Architecture. SLAMM is focused on offering management training in the areas of leadership, ethics, law, public relations, marketing, financial literacy, and strategy to non-business students whose majors range from art history to biomedical engineering, psychology, and health and wellness in the School of Professional Advancement (SOPA).

This fall, Ryder Thornton, a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, became the new program director for SLAMM. Thornton’s experience working for a nonprofit, running his own business, and founding a theatre company has allowed him to understand the need to balance creative vision and demand. He and McMahon agree that current students are entering fields whose demands are shifting. As Thornton explains, “independent and small business ventures are becoming more and more part of the economic landscape, and people are increasingly forging their own career path. This program is something we hope will give the students more confidence moving into their careers.”

McMahon adds that “our students have a lot to offer, but they don't always realize how to articulate their skills to potential employers.” The task force, which is comprised of about nine members including School of Liberal Arts faculty and individuals across the university, is charged with thinking about how to best prepare SLAMM students for their futures.  This charge includes responding to employers desire to find lucid speakers and writers with experience in team building and cross-cultural competency. Together, the group is analyzing data and will make recommendations to Dean Brian Edwards in spring 2020 that detail how the school can update the minor’s curriculum to meet the needs of various industries and students, while also maintaining a vision grounded in liberal arts.