Bullying is a major concern for everyone, everywhere. In Australia, research has indicated that one in every six school children is bullied each week and one in every four employees has been bullied at work. This devastating phenomenon is global, with current research showing that 30 percent of U.S. students in grades six through 10 are reporting being involved in moderate or frequent bullying and students throughout many European countries are stating the same (e.g., in a 2008 large scale study 48 percent of students in the UK, 43 percent in Scotland, 35 percent in Portugal, 33 percent in Italy, and 29 percent in Germany reported bullying as a significant issue in their school).
As a result, Bond university students enrolled in a business school negotiation subject partnered with a local elementary, middle, and high school (Varsity College) to create a 10,000 person strong, local community-oriented, united stand against bullying. As part of their negotiation course run during the early part of this year (2010), 12 Bond University students worked to create a targeted anti-bullying presentation for over 180 Varsity College Year 10 students. Their research indicated that bullying is an issue for everyone – not just Year 10 schoolchildren – and with Bond’s focus on engaging students in real-world, real-time, professionally oriented projects, the Bond student team recognised that they needed to engage others in this initiative. As a result, they created the ‘One Goal, One Community: Moving beyond bullying and empowering for life’ initiative, targeting 10,000 community members to sign a pledge to commit to behaviours that will better society and put an end to bullying.
Within three months, the Bond students negotiated to have 10,000 wristbands donated to the cause (by a local Australian award winning promotional products business, AAC ID Solutions), and in less than two weeks during mid-April of this year, the Bond students used their newly acquired negotiation and persuasion skills via face-to-face and personal communication only, to elicit 10,889 commitments from members, friends, and families of the local Varsity community to engage in positive, anti-bullying behaviours for life.
The Bond students incorporated research indicating that people are much more likely to engage in behaviours that they have committed to both in writing and verbally (rather than just having someone else ask them to do it with no commitment on their part at all) into the program with the design of commitment sheets and the criterion of personal communication as a pre-requisite for anyone to sign and receive/wear a wristband. Their subject on negotiation and persuasion taught them how to engage people, how to frame issues, and how to elicit the highest forms of commitment from others via the use of carefully structured communication and powerful visible signals like wristbands for creating public awareness and social support.
The service-learning community project embedded in this negotiation subject is designed to teach students material that they can integrate and apply immediately. This is achieved via learning that is real-world based and readily accessible to them in their future personal and professional lives. This initiative is a great example of a high-level, theoretically-based, synthesis learning oriented experiential project – our Bond students created a 10,000+ person-strong positive change in a community in a very short period of time. The skills they needed to create that change can be applied in any organisation in any part of the world. And that is our “Bond difference”… we offer small classes, personalised teaching, committed faculty, and real-world professionally-oriented projects aimed at targeted and applicable skill development – all of this designed to create a passion for continuous challenge and life-long learning in our students.
Dr. Amy L. Kenworthy
Associate Professor of Management and Director of the Centre for Applied Research in Learning, Engagement, Andragogy and Pedagogy (LEAP) at Bond University