January 11, 2010
Creative Thinking & Business
Posted by David Zaring

I've been wondering what to say about the Times story on transforming the business curriculum to a liberal arts curriculum.  Eric blogged about it here. The story certainly suggests that Toronto and Stanford are zigging while other places are zagging, but the odd thing about business schools is that they are increasingly mini-universities, with the resulting disaggregation (Stanford has some excellent political scientists, there's plenty of psychologists around, and so on), and so curricular innovations in one part of the school may not carry over to another.  I viewed the Times story as a management department phenomenon, though the ethicists and lawyers in my department would of course find the liberal arts ideal intriguing. 

But there are other curricular b school innovations happening at the same time - social responsibility is increasingly heard in the corridors, as is social impact - that might make it look like the business curriculum is getting revolutionized.  And it may be, but from a research perspective, business schools have earned their place by excelling in quantitative finance and accounting that do not require a revolution in the curriculum.  I'm not sure I think that b schools are turning into liberal arts programs yet, but it will be interesting to see how Wharton's Shakespeare and debate clubs end up faring.

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