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Ideas to Change the Course of Management Education

Changing the course of graduate management education could be as simple as adding coursework in communication, ethics, service learning, or in using “big ideas” from other academic disciplines to solve problems.

Out of 650 entries worldwide, at least six of the 20 winning ideas in the Ideas to Innovation Challenge —the Graduate Management Admission Council’s US$10 million initiative to identify and fund the best ideas to improve graduate management education—seek to change what gets taught in graduate business programs.

“Improving curriculum may be the most direct way to effect positive change in graduate management education,” said Allen Brandt, director of the Management Education for Tomorrow Fund, GMAC’s philanthropic arm. “The beauty of many of these ideas is they could be implemented quickly, at one or two schools, and yet they could be easily replicated worldwide.”

In Phase 1 of the two-part i2i Challenge, the MET Fund awarded US$262,000 for 20 ideas to improve management education, selected from 650 submitted worldwide. In Phase 2, the MET Fund invites graduate business schools and other non-profit education providers to submit proposals to implement any of the top 20 ideas by December 16. The US$10 million MET Fund will finance the best proposals to make the innovations a reality.

The winning curriculum ideas seek to improve graduate business programs in a wide variety of ways, through formal coursework, structured service projects, and teaching programs:

  • A course on problem-solving models from other disciplines, by James Falbe, International Service Partners consultant. A course on problem-solving models in other academic fields, such as history, psychology, or mathematics, would make management students better able to treat both the symptoms and causes of tomorrow’s big problems, which may not have economic or business-related causes. The course could tap the expertise of professors already at the university and thus would not be difficult to arrange, Falbe notes.
  • A cross-university telecommuting project, by Aadel Al-Jadda, University of Rochester Simon Graduate School of Business Administration student. Through a cross-university exercise, second-year MBA students at one university would hire, manage, and fire first-year MBA students at a different university, all through telecommunication. Students in both programs would better understand and experience the limitations and differences telecommuting creates, Al-Jadda writes.
  • Include a real-world service project in business ethics study, by Sisi Zhu, Rosetta consultant. Student teams would have to solve or alleviate a company or community problem as part of their business ethics education. A practical project would bring to life the theories of sustainable, responsible decision making, as well as help the community and the school.
  • Teaching communication for the technological age, by Lauren Hanat, Lehigh University Master of Science Accounting and Information Analysis Program student. Management programs would emphasize communication in the technological age, through business writing and editing coursework, courses and competitions in agile communication practices, and designing the school environment to facilitate agile communication, including circular tables, monitors, computers, projectors, and financial calculators.
  • Having students teach business certificate programs, by Price Paramore, US Air Force hospital administrator. Named for the Latin term for “to expand or grow,” the Augeo Project would have business students teach eight- to 12-week business certificate programs to local entrepreneurs. The Augeo Project would help the business students better understand the course content, help local businesspeople improve their practices relatively quickly and at low cost, and forge closer connections between the school and community.
  • Having students teach business to underrepresented urban teens, by Erich Dierdorff, DePaul Kellstadt Graduate School of Business assistant professor. Through a service learning requirement, MBA students would teach business to underrepresented urban high school students. Structured programs would professionalize the MBA through service and help students apply their knowledge, as well as help develop a pipeline to recruit future MBA students from diverse backgrounds.

Proposals to fund these or the other 14 winning ideas will be accepted through December 16. To find out more visit the GMAC MET Fund blog. Follow the Fund on Twitter at @GMACMETFund.

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