Bidhan, "Bobby" Parmar / Darden

In my teaching, I aim to expose students to new and challenging situations so that they can learn to confront ambiguity and learn about themselves.  I believe that the goal of education should be to help build the capacity for students to deal with progressively ambiguous situations in their domain of interest.  To that end, in my courses, I seek to embed experiential activities so that students can learn about how their good intentions can be quickly derailed because their behavior is shaped by unforeseen contextual forces and how they might overcome those challenges. 

One activity that I think would be great to expose students to is called an Escape Room.  Escape rooms are activities where people are placed in a room filled with insight puzzles, and they have to solve the puzzles in a fixed amount of time to escape the room.  Insight puzzles are different from traditional puzzles, in that they do not have a fixed set of rules, and it is unclear how to solve them.  Teams that solve insights puzzles well are good at throwing out hypotheses, building on each others’ ideas, examining disconfirming data, and creating psychological safety – or the shared belief that it is ok to make mistakes and share risky ideas.  Each of these skills is useful to my students in their careers and can help them become better leaders and more creative thinkers. 

Escape rooms are becoming popular activities, and there is a highly rated escape room in Richmond and a new one being built in Charlottesville.  I would like to take a large group of 130 students to the Charlottesville Escape Room and do the activity with them.  The advertised price for the Escape room is $25 a person, which I would propose to contribute $10/student to encourage participation to gather research data.  Afterward, I will host a potluck dinner at my house for the 130 students and contribute drinks/ice.  In addition to the activity that we will all engage in, I will use the opportunity to collect data on how teams solve insight problems together and work with a small group (5ish) MBA students over four dinners during the semester to analyze the data for interesting patterns and themes.   

I think this will be a fun and memorable experience for my students that will yield valuable insights for how leaders confront difficult and ambiguous problems.

Proposed budget:

  • Contribution to students Escape Room fee: 130 students x $10: $1,300
  • Contribution to potluck dinner for 130 students: $500
  • Small group dinners with 5 students and 1 professor to analyze research: $750
  • Refreshments for symposium to present research findings: $450

TOTAL: $3,000