Welcome to all of the new MA Marketing students. For the benefit of those who missed yesterday's induction speech, I made three challenges for students.
First, be active students not passive consumers - despite the popular discourse, we reject the idea of students as consumers and prefer students as students. A consumer consumes the commodity of their choosing. However we do not want you to consume knowledge but rather to be part of our academy for a year and produce your learning outcomes. We do not wish to engage in the commodification of knowledge and reduce it to a series of easy-to-understand, easily digestible little sweet cakes for you to take home and enjoy later; we want you to get your hands dirty in the messy and difficult world of raw knowledge. Your learning outcomes will not be something that we give, but rather something that you must generate over the course of the programme. Being active entails reading constantly, participating and leading class discussion, taking extensive notes during lectures and working voluntarily with your comrades.
Two, do not think like a business leader, think like a philosopher - business thinking has a bottom-line focus on profitability however knowledge, in its broader sense, has a much wider remit and must also consider aspects relating to justice, freedom and beyond. We must never simplify knowledge in order to satisfy a short-term problem solving need, but rather constantly consider complex implications and broader consequences across political, ethical, economic, social, historical, cultural, technological domains. Therefore we want you to temporarily bracket the knowledge demands for your career aspirations and instead spend this year thinking about marketing philosophically. This entails not wanting to know how to do marketing, but rather seeking to understand life in the context of marketing. We are confident that your career aspirations will not be damaged but rather will be enhanced and that you will graduate as a more intellectually rounded person.
Three, be inspired - the best performing students are not those who are naturally the most intelligent but rather are those who are the most curious about the topic. We have a library full of books, a city full of culture - we want you to explore and identify an intellectual point of interest that you will carry through the year and will keep you motivated and fascinated. We want you to find something marketing theory related and use it to drive you along throughout the programme. This means that you need to be engaged in self-directed reading and constantly be looking to identify points of intersection and relevancy between your area of interest and modular content. This area of interest can later form the basis of your dissertation.
Click here to see Cornel West talking about why reading and thinking
philosophically is courageous, inspirational and electrifying.
Finally some practical suggestions:
- If you do not speak English as a first language then embed yourself in English. You must be spending the majority of your day living and learning through English in order to keep up.
- Bracket several hours a day, and at least one day a week, for the purpose of reading. Read physical books - do not scan material on computers screens - and go to beautiful libraries to read (such as Senate House Library, the British Library or the Founders Building Library). Do not take a laptop or phone but instead focus on your book and read it cover to cover. If you find the text difficult to understand do not give up. Remember the more you read the more familiar the ideas become and the easier reading becomes. Also remember, it is not supposed to be easy.
- Form reading groups with colleagues. Divide books into several chapters and every meeting a different person leads the discussion. This is a good way of meeting friends and also generating positive and productive peer pressure that will keep you focused. The more social you make your reading activities, the more likely you will both enjoy and sustain the task.
It is very easy to fall into a trap of feeling lonely, becoming stressed by the programme demands and frustrated with programme content. These challenges and pieces of advice are designed to help you enjoy the programme and perform well in your studies. We want you to enjoy your studies. Remember we are not here to serve you, but we are here to support you as you take leadership over your own learning outcomes.