Innovator Article

Dean’s Message: Building a Bold Business Future Through Educational Innovation

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The mission of 21st-century business schools should be to educate innovative, globally aware leaders who are prepared to make a positive impact on society. Our focus must be to teach students how to tackle business challenges with an integrated, multidisciplinary approach anchored by teamwork, responsible business practices and strong accountability.

Our focus must be to teach students how to tackle business challenges with an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach anchored by teamwork, responsible business practices and strong accountability.

Yet, there is no standard formula in management education that best achieves this goal—as evidenced by the varied formats, curricula and new ideas in today’s business school market.

I believe that the public questioning of the efficacy of business schools by the media in the wake of the global financial crisis ultimately has had a positive effect on business education. It has presented us with a unique opportunity to continuously improve our educational offerings.

As a result, business school deans and faculty members have reflected on our outcomes, our roles and our guiding principles. Many have begun to question the extreme form of shareholder capitalism that led to the emphasis on short-term financial gains and the neglect of customers, employees and communities with which businesses are inextricably linked. In particular, reflections by leaders in business education have involved a long, hard look at the skills, knowledge and values we offer business students, and how we deliver on our promises.

The most immediate result: This autumn we will launch a new UC Davis MBA curriculum—the most fundamental renewal in the School’s history—that further integrates globalization, corporate citizenship and environmental sustainability while maintaining a solid grounding in essential business fundamentals. Our efforts are part of a broader pattern by schools such as Harvard, Wharton and the University of California, Berkeley, that have revamped their curricula, each differently and each drawing on their competitive advantages and strengths.

The changes to our core coursework, coupled with new advanced leadership and career-development programs, are the result of more than 10 months of work by a diverse task force of faculty, alumni, business leaders and students. In January, the School’s faculty overwhelmingly approved the revisions.

We are making dramatic changes that represent the merger of academic and practical approaches to build a new framework informed by the business world’s needs. We also have developed specific learning assurance measures and assessments to monitor effectiveness and signal the need for innovations in the future.

Our new curriculum leverages the research and teaching strengths of our faculty; our campuses in Davis, the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento; and the breadth of opportunities for our MBA students to work on compelling, hands-on projects for leading companies in the key sectors that intersect with UC Davis’ world-leading research. At the same time, the curriculum remains highly integrated with our tight-knit community culture that is the hallmark of our MBA experience.

We are committed to continuous improvement to prepare our MBA graduates with the real-world practice and the analytical, technical and leadership skills needed to succeed in the business world of today and tomorrow.

I invite you to read more in this issue on how these enhancements reflect emerging trends, and demonstrate our collective entrepreneurial drive to stay ahead of the curve in business education.

Steven C. Currall

Dean and Professor of Management

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