Business is the largest undergraduate major in the U.S. and still growing. This reality, along with the immense power of the business sector and its significance for national and global wellbeing, makes quality education for these students critical not only for them but also for the public good. Business education for undergraduates, however, is too often narrow, fails to challenge students to question assumptions, think creatively, or to understand the place of business in larger institutional contexts. These are the results of a national study of undergraduate business education undertaken by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, reported in this book. The book describes the efforts of a diverse set of institutions to address these limitations by supporting the best elements of liberal arts learning integrated with students’ learning of business disciplines in order to develop wise, ethically grounded professional judgment.
The book forcefully articulates the nature of liberal learning, the purpose of which is to enable students to make sense of the world and their place in it, preparing them to use knowledge and skills to engage responsibly with the life of their times. The authors provide compelling examples of effective pedagogies and curricular designs that promote this essential learning for business students, along with campus cultures that support it. They also provide insights about educating for innovation and entrepreneurial thinking and for competence in navigating a global business environment. The lessons of the volume are directly applicable to undergraduate fields such as engineering, nursing, and education, as well as business.
The recommendations of this study point the way toward undergraduate business education that helps students move beyond narrow technical expertise to creativity, professional judgment, and enhanced social contribution and personal fulfillment in their work and their lives.
“With business the most popular undergraduate major for over 30 years, this book meets a long overdue need to carefully evaluate the state of undergraduate business education in the US and provide frameworks for improving it. The authors argue forcefully for a balanced approach—one that integrates applied learning with liberal arts models of inquiry. Only with this kind of integration can we educate leaders who can reason both concretely and creatively.”
–Sally Blount, Dean of Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
“The authors have provided the most thoughtful and systematic study of undergraduate business education since the famous Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation reports of the 1950s. It is difficult to imagine a more bold and timely study that also offers a path for revitalizing America’s undergraduate business schools and, in turn, our nation’s business leadership.”
–Rakesh Khurana, Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Harvard Business School; author of From Higher Aims to Hired Hands
“This book effectively dismantles the argument that there is no time or need for the liberal arts in modern business education. The authors correctly point out that the world needs business leaders who can manage complexity, think creatively and leverage the insights of others – skills honed far more explicitly in the liberal arts than in business. Their call for a thoughtful balance between mastery of business disciplines and exploration of alternative perspectives is one I wholeheartedly endorse.”
–Roger Martin, Dean of Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto; author of The Opposable Mind