Staff Editorial: MBA program has the right idea

GW’s top-40 Business School’s MBA program is gambling that students want a quality education based in ethics and globalization.

Last week, the Business School announced that it has revamped its entire MBA curriculum to include an emphasis on ethics in business throughout the syllabus. The move is a gutsy one with a potential downside in a business world not overburdened with ethics, but if it results in business leaders who place values on the same level as profits, the payout will be worth it.

At a university whose academics have seen little substantive change in years, it might be time to take a risk similar to the Business School’s to get out of a curricular rut.

Business schools across America have been teaching similar curriculums and producing similar business leaders for years, and GW’s move to carve out a niche with its global MBA program is a bold marketing move. It also places the University on the cutting edge in an increasingly globalized world – according to The Washington Post, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business also recently announced a move toward globalized education, indicating a possible trend.

The question of ethics is also at the forefront of the business world these days with the collapse of many top Wall Street fixtures that are staffed with many graduates of traditional business schools. A more ethical, globalized business leader may well be the best-suited for the future.

It remains to be seen whether future applicants agree. GW is definitely taking a risk in being one of the first in its field. “For many MBA students, the driving force is money,” Murat Tarimcilar, associate dean for graduate programs, told the Post. If that’s truly the case, GW may have seriously decreased its applicant pool. But if the move results in an MBA class filled with students of a greater moral caliber, then the shake-up will be well worth it.

Many areas of GW academics could stand a similar shake-up. Academics here have stagnated for years, and if a department or school identifies a problem area, they should have the courage to make changes, even if they are logistically difficult. For instance, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences recently identified serious problems with its advising system, particularly in large departments. CCAS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Paul Duff’s unacceptable response to the issue plaguing larger departments was, “That’s not going to change,” and “There’s no easy way to solve that” (“CCAS advising changes stalled,” Sept. 4, p. 1).

We’ve been waiting around awhile for University President Steven Knapp’s grand plan to improve GW academics, and maybe some risks can be taken and changes made while we wait. Professors, department chairs and deans can make an effort similar to the MBA program to revamp their curriculums for the better and get away from the status quo.

After all, if your stakes are high and the table goes cold, a wise bettor changes things up. What stakes could be higher than your quality of education?

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