The new dean of one of the US’ leading business schools believes business is the “most powerful force” for global prosperity and that business education has a key role to play in ensuring this remains the case.
Scott DeRue, who became dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in July, told Times Higher Education that it was at the “intersection of business and education” where schools can produce leaders who affect global “economic, social and political change”. Professor DeRue added that he wanted Ross to be the world leader in “experience-driven” education, which he said was the vehicle for achieving these goals.
“We have a long history of being on the leading edge of action-based learning in business education,” he said. “A great example [is that] we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of our MAP [Multidisciplinary Action Projects] programme.
“In the last two months of the MBA programme’s first year, we shut down all other classes, [save] the MAP. [Students] spend two months consulting for organisations around the world, full-time, [doing] really high-impact advisory...work for companies.”
Professor DeRue said this was the “future of business education: learning business by doing business”, but said he would not compromise on traditional university education.
“There is decades of research showing experience being one of the best forms, pedagogically, for learning,” he said. “The key to success there is surrounding the experience with the content, the coaching, the support, the facilitation needed to ensure our students are maximising the learning value of the experiences they’re having…it’s a mix of your classic pedagogical form with a heavy dose of experiential education.”
Professor DeRue added that in an increasingly unpredictable world, he saw “nothing but opportunity” for business schools and universities as “really important…for our global society”.
“As someone who has been the beneficiary of HE, I understand [its] power,” he said. “I’m motivated by the opportunity to have impact on the world. I see business education as a place where we collectively have a very important role in society going forward – whether that’s the ideas, the research, the scholarship we produce, the educational experiences we provide our students.
“Certainly, you can have an impact in the private, public and government sectors, but to me business schools provide a great platform to impact the world.”
Consequently, he said, business scholars had a duty to mould their students into responsible leaders.
“I fundamentally believe we need leaders who bring people together and can mobilise people towards the accomplishment of a shared and common vision,” he said, “not leaders who conspire with the forces that will divide us – the politics of fear that we see playing out on both sides of the pond these days. That’s not leadership.”