Bringing the real world into the classroom

Sally Susman

As the executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer at Pfizer, Sally Susman ’84 is busy engaging with all the company’s external stakeholders; overseeing global policy, communications, government relations, corporate responsibility, investor relations and the Chief Patient Office; and serving as the vice chair of the Pfizer Foundation and co-chair of Pfizer’s Political Action Committee.

But Susman, an emerita trustee, enjoys taking time out of her busy schedule to give Conn students a firsthand look at the challenges of running one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies.

One spring afternoon before the pandemic, Susman and two of her colleagues joined sophomores in Professor MaryAnne Borrelli’s “U.S. Government and Politics” course for robust discussions about lobbying, corporate ethics, political action committees, corporate organization, and gender in business and politics.

“It’s a real treat for us to get out of our offices and be able to come here and meet students. I graduated in 1984, and we never had a class like this,” Susman said. “Weaving practical application into theoretical courses is an excellent way for students to gain an understanding of a subject. I think it’s fantastic.”

Susman’s visits to campus are part of Career Informed Learning (CIL), an initiative that is energizing students, faculty and alumni across the campus. Developed as part of Connections, Connecticut College’s reinvention of the liberal arts, CIL is a project-based learning approach to education that brings real-life work challenges into the classroom for students to research, analyze and develop solutions. CIL teaches students to be flexible problem-solvers, as well as to present and communicate more effectively.

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