Business ethics expert to lead course reform

A top ethics professor at the GW School of Business will steer the school’s curriculum overhaul as the interim associate dean of undergraduate programs, a move signaling the school’s continued push for more interdisciplinary and ethics-based courses.

Tim Fort, a chaired business ethics professor, will assume the temporary position to lay the groundwork for the school’s ongoing curriculum reform.

“The main thing I’ve been tasked to do is to think through how to take our undergraduate programs to the next level with a rich holistic experience. I want to listen to a lot of people,” Fort, who came to GW in 2005, said.

The curriculum changes will now be delayed by at least a year, Vice Dean of Programs and Education Murat Tarimcilar said last week. The original projections called for the completion of the overhaul by fall 2012.

“We would be delighted if we can manage to roll a new curriculum for fall 2012, but given the fact that the school is undertaking a number of new and significant initiatives…we are trying to be realistic and not set unreachable expectations for the [undergraduate] curriculum,” Tarimcilar said.

Tarimcilar said last week that the school will wait until Fort’s interim position is permanently filled before implementing specific reforms.

Fort said he will organize town hall events and employ social media to gather student feedback, as well as discuss curriculum reforms with faculty and recent alumni.

The associate dean position was left vacant this summer when Larry Singleton left on sabbatical.

The permanent replacement will likely be an external candidate, coming from one of the eight faculty positions that the school will fill for next year, Tarimcilar said. Fort, who is also executive director of the GW Institute for Corporate Responsibility, said he is not currently interested in applying for the permanent associate deanship.

With the reform, the school intends to move to the front of the pack for business education, Tarimcilar said.

“The current curriculum allows students to take a lot of courses, but unfortunately they don’t put everything together. They take history, but we don’t think about how history shapes business,” Tarimcilar said.

He added that integration – what he called “a big part of the curriculum revision” – will require the cooperation of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the Elliott School of International Affairs and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Fort said his alma mater, Notre Dame, which boasts the top-ranked undergraduate business program in the country, could provide a natural model for GW’s reform. Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the business school’s undergraduate program as No. 59 in the nation this year.

“If you listen to corporate executives, they’re wanting leaders that are coming into the business world who can think through issues,” he said.

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