Power Lunches Feed Intellectual Curiosity at Booth

One of my favorite things about Booth is that our professors aren’t just teachers and case-writers, but are equal parts researcher, instructor, and mentor. With our long list of distinguished faculty pushing the frontiers of business science outward on a daily basis, I always find myself getting FOMO over all the classes I want to take but can’t find space to cram into my two-year schedule.

Fortunately, Booth’s research and learning centers frequently host talks and events for professors to discuss their research—enabling students like me to glean insights on a wide variety of topics that complement the my formal curriculum.

I recently attended a special talk hosted by James M. Kilts Center for Marketing, where Professor Berkeley Dietvorst discussed his research on why human beings don’t trust algorithms to make decisions.

Here are a few “ah-ha” moments I had during the talk:

Booth students are curious -they care about the breadth and depth of their education

The dozens of students who attended Professor Dietvorst’s talk weren’t there because they had to be. Nobody was taking attendance, and no bonus points awarded. These students could have been doing anything with their lunch hour, but we chose to spend it listening to a professor talk about a topic that was new to many of us and was probably unrelated to our line of work.

I think that says something about your average Booth student. Booth students are willing to use their limited free time to explore new ideas, and acknowledge that sometimes the most important lessons come from things that have no apparent direct or immediate benefit.

Being a good researcher and being a good professor are complementary

Two things were clear listening to Professor Dietvorst. First, he had thought a lot about how people make decisions. Second, he was passionate about sharing what he had learned.

While these qualities are undoubtedly necessary for a good researcher, they also made his talk engaging and personally relevant for the students.

We all laughed as he demonstrated our irrational behavior with a simple example: if you pick your own route home, and it takes twice as long as you thought, you blame circumstances out of your control. If you use GPS, and the commute takes twice as long, you blame the GPS. I know that I have felt this on many occasions.

While we’ve all studied similar social psychology phenomena, this was a really interesting insight on how some of this psychology might impact how people interact with computers, machines, and algorithms.

Soak it up!

While I hope that my education is a lifelong journey, it’s hard to believe that I’ll ever have access to this much diversity of intensity of thought once I graduate from Chicago Booth. I’m also afraid that I won’t have the time—for many of us, this will be our last degree.

Luckily, these talks are often live broadcast on the Chicago Booth Facebook page, so alumni and curious minds from around the world can tune in and see what’s happening on the frontier of business research. To me, there is comfort in that.

Between now and graduation, I know that Booth and the Kilts Center will continue to please with plenty of discussions to keep my mind engaged and inspired. So, for the last few months of my MBA, I’ll continue to soak it up!

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