Teaching Formats for Managing Transformation

Given that our site’s purpose primarily is to support teaching that prepares students for being responsible leaders oriented towards building a more sustainable future, I want to highlight the nine courses that received this year’s “Ideas Worth Teaching Award” by the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program. I only noted the Awards in more detail because the course I co-developed together with Leonhard Dobusch from the University of Innsbruck, Organizing in Times of Crisis (which actually served as the practical and inspirational stepping-stone for this UP:IT platform), is among the price winners, praised for demonstrating “what rapid, remote collaboration can truly look like” and because it is “fully digital and open source, and designed to be adapted and taught across multiple universities”. So, there seems to be a future for online, collaborative teaching. But here I do not want to talk more about the online collaborative model, ideas about which have also already been outlined elsewhere, but rather draw your attention to the other price winners, all of which have shared their syllabi online and all of which have developed amazingly innovative and inspirational course designs for a responsible management education.

One of my picks is Oscar Jerome Stewart’s Seminar in Business & Society taught at San Francisco State University. In this seminar, Oscar focuses on enabling students to make value-based decisions. The main part of the course is helps students to identify their own values and raising students’ consciousness about the importance of building equitable and socially just organizations. Assignments include developing a one paragraph personal values statement to go on the top of students’ resume and on LinkedIn as well as creating a piece of art that represents students professional values, manifesting each student’s moral philosophy. What a great mix of thought work and ‘material’, manual work, science and arts, introspection and prospection for a more sustainable future. A similar aim is pursued at INSEAD in the course Ethics: Value-Based Leadership for Cosmopolitans by Gianpiero Petriglieri and Beatrice Desmettre.

Another great approach is Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks’ Impact Studio: Translating Research into Practice taught at the University of Michigan. This course applies a full design thinking process to the challenge of “Building Back Better in the Wake of COVID-19”. Jeffrey writes in his syllabus: “In this course, we will focus on pressing issues we find in our local ecosystem of small-medium businesses (SMBs), impact organizations, and student communities. We will prioritize organizations facing inequities in the wake of the pandemic including women and minority-owned businesses, and organizations that serve vulnerable populations. Students will harness expertise residing within the University (faculty and students) to seek to develop sustainable solutions with local organizations.” Again, what a great mix of learning design thinking as a method, applying entrepreneurial thinking and learning by engagement that fosters students’ skills in developing equitable, sustainable solutions.

Finally, I want to highlight Sarah Kaplan’s The 360° Corporation taught at the Rotman School of Management and in company workshops. In this course, Sarah “dives deep into a single corporation, using ethnographic field trips, self-reflections, in-class debates, guest speakers and carefully curated multimedia resources to immerses students in the trade-offs, and opportunities, created by companies’ business models”. The learnings from teaching this course over several years are now published in a book of the same name. This holistic teaching approach can be adapted to different cases suiting different regional and local needs and interest, and thus provides a great model of teaching for the future.

But do check out all of the courses described on the Aspen Institute website – I feel hugely inspired and hope our students will, too.

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