With the crucial support of Pitt Business faculty, the 50th Annual Association for Business Simulation and Experiential Learning (ABSEL) Conference was held March 22-24, 2023, on the University of Pittsburgh campus.

The theme was “Forging the Future of Experiential Learning” as the association’s members from across the world came together to celebrate the history of ABSEL’s contributions to the development and encouragement of the use of simulations and experiential teaching methodologies. ABSEL’s members share unique experience-based approaches that help prepare today’s business students for a dynamic competitive workplace.

The 2023 conference was planned and executed by Debbie Good, clinical professor of business administration, who served as ABSEL vice president and program chair, along with Kiersten Maryott, clinical associate professor of business administration, who served as ABSEL’s treasurer and local arrangements chair. Both Good and Maryott have each previously served as the ABSEL’s president and Maryott is an ABSEL Fellow.

Good and Maryott felt that it was important to bring the conference on campus. Maryott said, “With ABSEL’s focus on experiential learning, Debbie and I felt hosting the conference at Pitt would provide a great opportunity to highlight all the amazing experiential learning opportunities we incorporate into our programs here at Pitt and Pitt Business.”

Good added: “Pitt, and especially the business school, engages in some of the most innovative and immersive types of experience-based learning in the country and even the world. We have quietly built the business school into a leader in the development and usage of experiential learning exercises and projects. We wanted to spotlight the unique activities that business students have come to expect as a mainstay in their curriculum. We don’t tell the world enough how good we are at these approaches to learning.”

Colleagues Collaborate for Success

Good and Maryott said colleagues, many with ABSEL roles, also helped with the conference, sponsored by Pitt Business and the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership. They included:

  • Paul Klein, clinical associate professor of business administration, who serves as ABSEL’s Director of Internal Relations & Marketing
  • Elise Boyas, clinical associate professor of business administration, who served as Experiential Track Chair
  • Jennifer Petrie-Wyman, associate director for strategic initiatives, who serves as Professional Development Workshop Chair
  • Tom Davis, clinical associate professor of business administration, who served as Director at Large
  • Tony Rodi, clinical associate professor of business administration, who is Director at Large

Over the course of three days, conference attendees attended professional development workshops, site visits to related Pitt experiential initiatives (Pitt Studios, WISER Center, and the Center for Creativity), and various membership meetings.

In addition to research presented by association members from outside Pitt Business, research from the following members of the Pitt Business community (listed alphabetically) was presented: Chris Barlow, director of Katz Career Management and Corporate Engagement; Boyas; Bob Butter, adjunct faculty member; Good; Brian Hogan, clinical associate professor of business administration; Klein; Chris McCarrick, part-time instructor; Audrey Murrell, professor of business administration, psychology, public and international affairs; Associate Dean Sara Moeller; Albrecht Powell, Katz executive-in-residence; and Tim Ziaukas, adjunct faculty member.

The keynote speaker was Kevin M. Smith, the director of Undergraduate Studies in Broadcast at Pitt and the director of Pitt Studios.