Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Change in MBA curriculum is unprecedented shift in philosophy for Daniel

Students entering the MBA program at the Daniels College of Business in 2007 will encounter a revolutionary curriculum that includes 20 credit hours dedicated to saving the world.

The new “MBA Compass” curriculum will constitute a full 25 percent of MBA program requirements, complementing the traditional MBA core and elective coursework.

“This represents a fundamental shift in business-school philosophy,” says Stephen Haag, associate dean for graduate programs and academic centers at Daniels. “No other schools are doing this.”

Haag believes the Compass curriculum will teach students to “lead for a better tomorrow.” The five-course curriculum will focus on topics such as human rights, environmental leadership, world hunger, renewable energy, affordable health care and micro-financing for social entrepreneurship activities. The courses will be team-taught by faculty in a variety of disciplines, including finance, marketing and information technology.

“Our faculty recognizes that the business world changes. Our teaching must change as well to adapt to the times,” says Haag, noting that it’s been several years since the MBA curriculum was last revised.

The curriculum redesign process began last June with faculty committees identifying desired program changes. Focus groups made up of current and prospective students, parents of prospective students, and community business leaders provided feedback.

The program was unanimously accepted by the Daniels faculty in September and was approved by DU’s Board of Trustees in October.

“It’s an integrated, eclectic approach to teaching,” Haag says. “It will be a new concept for many of the professors.”

Daniels College’s focus on the teaching of ethics and values sprung from benefactor Bill Daniels’ belief that it is possible to be successful in business while maintaining a social conscience. The Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive’s graduate business school ranking placed Daniels at No. 3, tied with Yale, for producing students with strong ethical standards. 

“The Compass component takes our commitment to ethics to the next level,” Haag says. “Other schools have one course in ethics. We now have five that focus on ethics and larger issues such as sustainability.”

Feedback from students and business leaders has been positive, and many current students have asked if they can be included in the Compass program, Haag says. And although the school did not create the new program with recruitment in mind, Haag feels it will help.

Carol Alm, assistant dean of graduate program services, believes the new curriculum will also appeal to employers.

“We hear from employers that they want students who are savvy and who have had experiences and exposure,” Alm says. “Our graduates will reflect the values-based curriculum in the way they talk and interact in the business world.”

“We will produce graduates who have social consciousness,” Haag adds. “Their commitment to doing good will extend beyond their company’s stakeholders to the community, the country and the entire world.”

This article originally appeared in The Source, December 2006.

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