Has the Time Come for a Philosophy Shop?

The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Professor Cameron Lawrence introduced two speakers, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, to his Information Infrastructure class.  The topic?  Minimalism.

A predictable response a few years ago might have been, “Wait.  What room am I in?”  But instead of being bewildered by the topic, the class last fall enthusiastically welcomed the speakers who discussed the value of embracing a minimalist lifestyle and enjoying a life that makes a person healthy, happy and purposeful.

Internationally known speakers, these entrepreneurs have a blog with over four million readers and have been featured in the national press and on major television networks.

A primary reason the minimalist discussion resonated with the business majors is that the students are part of a generation that questions the value of things.  This generation responds to the incentive of more time off to enjoy life rather than working longer hours to afford more things.

So where does business fit in this scenario? The speakers were not there to suggest that business is somehow subversive.  Rather, it was apparent that business knowledge enables them to live the life they choose to live.  

In this instance, the speakers promoted their passion for minimalism by using business tools.  They engaged in personal selling.  Millburn and Nicodemus generously gave a copy of their latest book to each member of the class. They also discussed a documentary they are creating, which will provide publicity for their philosophy as well as their coaching and writing services.  

Through the presenters’ compelling talk, it was clear to SoBA students they could use business skills to promote services, social causes, non-profit organizations, government entities and education. Students could see they did not have to follow a corporate career or even sell “things.”  The business skills students acquire enable them to consider alternatives, to be flexible and to have freedom.

Professor Lawrence provided a venue for divergent thought and appreciation for alternative points of view. This experience is one of the important benefits of today’s learning environment at SoBA:  integrated learning. 

Integrated learning is an approach toward education that helps students embrace all disciplines.  Toward that end, last year SoBA created a business minor for students from across campus who did not want to major in business, but who desired the necessary skills to be able to follow their passions.

Cameron Lawrence’s classroom experience presented business students with a way to evaluate their own life choices and reaffirm that their business skills are useful no matter what their career choices might be.  Who knows what could result from this type of integrated education.  Perhaps a philosophy shop is not that far-fetched after all.

To read more about the speakers, please visit their website.