MBA Programs Increasingly Incorporate Social Goals

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Students seeking to “do good” have traditionally sought higher education programs in fields such as nonprofit management, social work, or public policy and administration. Recently, increasing numbers of these students are turning to business schools and, consequently, business schools are adjusting their curriculums to meet the change in demand.

Business schools around the world, such as the Social Enterprise Program at Columbia’s Business School, Esade’s international business school, and the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, are attempting to incorporate social goals into traditional MBA coursework. This is being attempted in many ways, including:

  • Courses on, or specialization in, social entrepreneurism
  • Courses on, or specialization in, social enterprise
  • Courses on, or specialization in, international development and emerging markets
  • Acknowledgement of the triple bottom line: people, planet, profit
  • Focus on ethics in business
  • Social innovation fellowships or prize completions
  • Shifts in curriculum and marketing to reflect the fact that students may (eventually) run 501(c)(3) organizations or hybrid institutions, not just the traditional for-profit business models

In many cases, the marketing of the schools reflects a more holistic perspective on business. For example, the Esade website indicates the school is “committed to training individuals who are aware of their responsibilities as citizens and professionals, and who can make a significant contribution in their careers to meeting society’s demands. As an institution, we strive to be increasingly socially responsible and sustainable in all of our activities.”

Source: Nonprofit Quarterly (link opens in a new window)

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