Bringing Sprott’s Teaching, Research and Collaboration Spaces Together
Sprott’s future home, the Nicol Building, will help connect Carleton’s business school to local, national and international communities.
Because it will be centrally located steps from the O-Train stop and at the tunnel junction linking the university’s academic campus, residences and Athletics, the 115,000-square-foot, six-storey building will serve as a new gateway to Carleton.
When the building is completed next year, all of Sprott’s teaching, research and collaboration spaces will be together under one roof for the first time, fostering the type of serendipitous encounters between colleagues and students that can spark creative ideas. And though blueprints for the exterior and many features (such as a signature three-storey atrium) are final, Brown will be able to help shape the interior to create a welcoming and dynamic environment.
“The Nicol Building provides an opportunity to strengthen our connections to others in the university and to the community, and to open our doors to the world,” she says, explaining that in her travels to business schools around the globe, anachronistic architecture (i.e., stark and austere spaces designed for men who wear dark suits) tends to prevail.
“With lighter colours and open spaces for networking and collaboration, we aim to make the building look and feel like a 21st century business school should.”
That attitude extends to how Brown views inclusiveness more broadly, and how business and business schools have traditionally excluded diverse people and voices.
“To understand diverse groups of people and their needs, we need to be open to a wide spectrum of voices and to seek out local engagement,” she says. “And not just token diversity — I mean ensuring that everyone has a say.
“A key component of purposeful business is inclusiveness and breaking down barriers between communities,” continues Brown. “Businesses need to harness inclusive economies by widening the accessibility and affordability of key products and services. Greater, more equal participation in the economy should be the type of growth we seek to achieve.
“To foster ideas along these lines, we must be an inclusive community ourselves. This means not only fostering diversity but also looking at new ways to ensure that everyone has a voice and is engaged.”
Brown’s thoughts about inclusiveness have been informed by her work in India, where she sits on the governing council of New Delhi’s Vedica Scholars Programme for Women, which helps women from a wide range of backgrounds develop business leadership skills. She also works with a Thailand non-profit called Warm Heart Worldwide, founded by a political science professor at Rutgers and focused on local economic development in the hills of the Phrao district through education, sustainable farming and microeconomic enterprises that help people stay and work in their communities.
In this part of Thailand, huge swathes of land were given away to large corporations, which means that young people typically have had to leave to look for jobs.
“What kind of system is that and who is it for?” asks Brown.
“This is a perfect example of what went wrong with globalization — and this project is an example of what we can do to change things.”
Even though it’s thousands of kilometres away from Carleton, it also embodies the shift that’s underway at Sprott, and how a new approach to business education can make a meaningful and tangible difference.
“The status quo is hard to change,” says Brown, “but that doesn’t mean we need to be afraid of change.”