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Feb 24, 2022

Addressing Societal Issues through Business Policy with Dr. Greg Brown

By Mary Miller, Kenan Scholars Class of 2024

Dr. Greg Brown, executive director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Finance, spoke with Kenan Scholars as part of the “Lunch & Learn” speaker series on Friday, Feb. 18. Through providing insights on research in business and answering hard-hitting questions about current policy topics, Dr. Brown helped Kenan Scholars refine their leadership goals and envision how to carry the mission of the program into their future careers.

In his path to becoming the director of the Kenan Institute, Dr. Brown has played a large role in shaping the dynamic Kenan-Flagler student experience. As a professor, he has taught in each program in the business school, at one point teaching every MBA student graduating with a Kenan-Flagler degree. He also helped build the interactive Capital Markets Lab, now a core component of many classes in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. Throughout his years as both a professor and leader in innovation, Dr. Brown noticed an untapped opportunity to enhance the undergraduate business experience and build on the potential of future leaders in the UBP, and thus, the Kenan Scholars program was born.

After providing a bit of background on his work within the Kenan Institute, Dr. Brown opened the floor to current scholars. As scholars shared their aspirations, Dr. Brown provided tangible examples of how each student’s goals connected to current work within the Kenan Institute. He revealed that throughout his time working with the program, his view of research within Kenan Scholars has shifted. He appreciates the flexibility for scholars to choose to dive into an honors thesis on the topic of their choice or take a collective approach to problem solving by collaborating with peers to tackle a problem from multiple angles. Above all, Dr. Brown stressed, “Knowing how to go after an argument and making a convincing argument based on evidence is a valuable skill to have.”

The session continued with a series of rapid-fire policy questions, with scholars asking Dr. Brown about topics ranging from carbon trading to healthcare. In each answer, Dr. Brown highlighted the importance of the critical thinking and translational research approach that the Kenan Scholars program emphasizes. He also drove home the need for businesses to take the lead in addressing social inequality and encouraged scholars to ask themselves what role business should play in their policy topic of choice. Dr. Brown concluded the discussion by spotlighting how integral business is to societal change, stating, “If you don’t solve the problem in business, you aren’t going to solve the problem.”

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