He has flown helicopter missions in South Korea, served as a counterterrorism officer in Pakistan, studied political science in the mountains of Idaho and worked at a major pharmaceutical company in Pennsylvania.
Last semester, Bryan Stinchfield landed in an environment fitting for his diverse background—the Department of Business, Organizations & Society (BOS) at Franklin & Marshall College.
Stinchfield, assistant professor of BOS, brings to the College an interest in organizational studies, particularly as it relates to environmental sustainability. His wide-ranging professional experience is especially well suited to the third word in his department's title: society.
"We're interested in how business is affecting society," Stinchfield explains in his office in the Patricia E. Harris Center for Business, Government & Public Policy. "We're talking about larger relationships. That was a significant attraction for me."
Stinchfield's professional career took shape in Western Pennsylvania, where he attended the University of Pittsburgh. He was part of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program at Pitt, and participated in a six-week training camp at Fort Bragg, N.C. "I remember doing push-ups in a muddy stream," he says. "Someone made the comment that I could fly helicopters, and I said, 'that would be better!'"
Soon Stinchfield became a helicopter pilot in the United States Army, stationed in South Korea. "I was flying close to trees, over the contours of the earth, which was absolutely exhilarating," he says. "I flew along the Korean DMZ."
After his time in the Army, Stinchfield entered the civilian world. He worked as a pharmaceutical representative in York County, Pa., selling Viagra for Pfizer. "I loved Pfizer, but I would say that being a drug rep is a lot like the movie Groundhog Day," Stinchfield says. "It was a great company, but the job got routine."
The Vermont native returned to Pitt for his M.B.A. after leaving Pfizer. During that time, his wife earned her doctorate in education at Duquesne University. The couple later moved west to Idaho, where Stinchfield worked on a master's degree in political science at Idaho State University.
Stinchfield's career took another turn following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In the wake of the attacks, he secured a job as a counterterrorism officer in Washington, D.C. He traveled to Pakistan as part of his work, with trips to many other far-flung destinations on his docket. Family, however, came first.
"It was an exciting line of work, but there's an old joke in the military," says the father of two. "If the military wanted you to have a family, they'd issue you one."
So Stinchfield went back to hit the books, earning his Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University. Now he explores the relationship between business and the natural environment in his classroom at F&M, where he discusses the challenges facing broad-based efforts to encourage sustainable business.
"The Kyoto Protocol had little effect on emissions in Europe, even though people were socially and spiritually committed, and their governments were behind it," he says. "But humans can't curb their consumption…it's programmed into our DNA to increase material wealth in our lives. If individuals aren't carbon-neutral, how can we expect companies to be?"
Far removed from the skies over South Korea, Stinchfield ponders that question and others.
"The thing I value is free thinking," he says. "The military is wonderful, but I realized early on that it is not a long-term home for free thinkers. So, the way I approach classes is to give students lots of reading, writing and discussion, and encourage free thinking. The effects from opening the mind can last for decades."