Isabelle G. Bajeux-Besnainou is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the School of Business and is a Professor of Finance.
I am writing in response to a column published in The Hatchet Jan. 27, entitled, “A Band-Aid to the business school’s deep cuts,” outlining opinions writer David Ellis’ opposition to the new GW School of Business mandate that students minor outside of the school.
The decision to require a minor outside of the business school emerged from a thorough process that engaged many key stakeholders, including faculty, employers, alumni, students and administrators. It is not only about incorporating more liberal arts in our curriculum, but also about making sure that students gain intellectual depth as they study higher level courses outside of the business school.
The business school can best ensure that students reach that depth by requiring a minor, which puts students through a specific academic field with rigorous course objectives.
The decision aligns with the University strategic plan to promote interdisciplinary education, and it also addresses the main concern of employers who hire undergraduate business majors. Employers want students to amass other skills on top of business acumen, and companies want to hire graduates who are intellectually curious and ready for professional growth in a constantly changing workplace. Adding a minor to the curriculum helps prepare students in just this way.
The liberal learning that we are promoting provides students with the ability to develop and refine their analytical thinking skills. Research has linked higher order thinking to increased problem-solving ability, one of the top skills for which employers are looking. Students build these skills by taking courses such as mathematics and economics, where they learn to apply rules from various disciplines in order to solve problems.
In addition, a minor allows students to become more well-rounded. Too often, we hear from employers that business students only “know business,” and lack other skills. For instance, a minor in communications could help students become effective communicators; a minor in English could enable our students to develop robust writing skills; a minor in music could enable students to become more creative problem-solvers. The range of minors available at GW will enable students to add skills to their business toolkit, making them more valuable to employers.
It is our hope that our students, and even other universities, will look at our model as an important step in the holistic development of college business students to better prepare them for the workplace. Our desire is to set our students on a path of lifelong learning as they embark on their future careers.