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Charles Wankel, Ph.D.

“Don’t Reinvent the Wheel,” Business Professor Tells Students

Having already published “a couple dozen” books focusing on cutting-edge approaches to teaching management, Charles Wankel, Ph.D., Professor of Management in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, wanted see how learning could be made more engaging by combining course work with activities less traditionally part of the curriculum.

His search is the inspiration behind his newest book, Integrating Curricular and Co-curricular Endeavors to Enhance Student Outcomes.

With chapters covering subjects like “Promoting Student Engagement in the Classroom and Beyond” and “Fostering Intercultural Competence through Short-Term Study Abroad,” this 2016 release delves into the new ways of teaching that universities are adopting around the world.

“My book reports on a variety of innovative approaches employed in several nations,” he said. “I wanted to focus on their experience in bringing together learning in courses with learning in co- and extracurricular activities.” At St. John’s, Dr. Wankel’s courses include Principles of International Business, Global Organizational Behavior, Managing through Social Media, and others.

Connecting with Students through Technology

Dr. Wankel believes in using the latest technologies in teaching—and leads by example. Since 2000, he has taught the majority of his courses each semester via Online Learning.  

“I require students to have Skype accounts so we can discuss one-on-one what they hope to get out of the course, what they’re majoring in, or just how they are progressing,” he said. “In many ways, I’m more connected to my students through online learning than I would be in a traditional classroom setting. I get a lot more face-to-face contact with them over Skype than I would in a classroom.”

He also asks students to create their own LinkedIn pages, so they can connect with St. John’s alumni who work in fields they wish to pursue. “The University has tens of thousands of alumni in New York,” he said. “Through LinkedIn, students can easily reach out and connect with people who are able to help them.”

Collaboration is the Key

Dr. Wankel doesn’t employ short-answer tests in his courses.  Instead, he gives students projects that often involve working with people from universities in a variety of nations.

“I always make a point to incorporate cross-disciplinary collaborations into my courses,” he said. A prime example of this is the X-Culture Competition. Each year, his students participate in the global business tournament, which features thousands of individuals from 60 countries working on issues affecting several real businesses.

“The X-Culture project is a good example of students from around the world working together in ways that expose them to more than just a single course at a single university in a single country,” he said. “It’s a wonderful way for them to experience the similarities and differences in doing business in different cultures.”

Looking Back to See What’s Ahead

Just as his teaching and writing interests focus on novel approaches to business learning, Dr. Wankel’s courses have an overall theme of giving students the push they need to be creative and innovative.   

“In the 1960s, the movement in education was the notion of teaching students to ‘learn how to learn,’” he said. “Today, we’re teaching them how to analyze what’s happening in certain business situations and to come up with an original solution. I don’t want my students to re-invent the wheel; I want them to understand what others have done and take the next step.”