Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion at the core of digital innovation at The University of Baltimore

The current year has been marked by calls for social change, the global pandemic and accelerated digital transformation. These events have profoundly disrupted the socioeconomic landscape across the globe. The University of Baltimore is strongly committed to respond to these global challenges. Examples of justice, equity and inclusion are found throughout the campus including the work in the Center for Digital Communication Commerce and Culture (CD3C). The CD3C acts as an interdisciplinary catalyst for impactful research, education and outreach activities that foster the development of digital competences and leadership as well as the responsible diffusion and advancement of digital innovations in our community. Stakeholder and community involvement, impactful student outcomes and industry partnerships are a fundamental part of the center.  

Eusebio Scornavaccathe university’s Parsons Professor of Digital Innovation and director of the Center for Digital Communication Commerce and Culture, carefully considers projects and actively aligns them with the university’s goals of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.  

“Failing to acknowledge and respond the societal calls for environmental justice as well as the transformation in the economic landscape brought by the digital age, and the global pandemic, is likely to result in furthering inequalities in the region,” said Scornavacca, the current the Thompson Chair of Management Information Systems in the Merrick School of Business.  

One of the trademark activities of the center is the development of the Real-life Case Competition series. These are projects where UBalt students are set out to solve a specific problem presented by local companiesThe cases are centered in the intersection of digital innovation and business issues. Scornavacca points out that the case competitions provide a meaningful opportunity for our students to apply the knowledge gained in class, learn from their experience, develop marketable skillsand directly connect with the Baltimore business community. Over the years, the firms he has collaborated with are as diverse as the UBalt student body. The results, he says, have been enormously gratifying for both the students and the partner organizations. Scornavacca also credits success of this initiative to the diversity of the groups―the University of Baltimore’s celebrated differences in ethnicity, gender and age groups―are real strengths in the development of innovative solutions.  

 Murray Dalziel, dean of the Merrick School of Business, points out these are great examples of how applied learning can be both personally and professionally impactful.  

 This semester, students enrolled in Scornavacca’s IT for Business Transformation course, part of UB’s MBA program, are having the opportunity to contribute to the development of COMPASS – a professional development association for diversity, procurement, legal, compliance and economic development professions, explained Dalziel. “These students, like many before them, are working towards a common solution, just like they do in the real-world.” 

Donna Stevenson, CEO of Early Morning Software, a women-led minority business enterpriseand chair for International Standards for Economic Inclusion & Diversity of COMPASS, has partnered with Scornavacca to challenge his students to envision how digital technologies can help COMPASS achieve its goal. The organization’s goal is to elevate practices that promote economic inclusion, produce equity and diversity in contracting and workforce, and to eradicate practices that suppress access to opportunities and foster poverty, exclusion and discrimination.  

 “The global climate calls for change which must be strategic in order to be transformative and sustainable, said Stevenson. 

 This is not the first time Stevenson and Scornavacca have worked together to develop a business challenge related to diversity and inclusion. During the Fall semester of 2017, Stevenson and Scornavacca developed a challenge around PRISM, a contract management and supplier diversity software platform.  Stevenson was quick to point out that the winning team in 2017 was composed of students completing different majors and backgrounds; their multidisciplinary and diverse approach provided valuable recommendations to address the challenge.    

 The Center for Digital Communication Commerce and Culture is committed to support minority business enterprises and bring together initiatives that engage our community in impactful ventures such as the COMPASS and PRISM cases, the recent partnerships with BluSky as well as the digital transformation conference co-hosted with the Bithgroup Technologies – a multi-state, certified Minority Business, Enterprise IT solutions company headquartered in Baltimore – and Morgan State University.  

 The CD3C is currently organizing a global colloquium on diversity and inclusion in the tech industryScornavacca point out that it is vital to design activities to remove barriers and increase participation of historically under-represented groups in the tech industry and the knowledge economy. This is one more step in the fundamental role of the university in the development of a smart, equitable and sustainable future of the region.   

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