Is Business Education Changing Given the 2008 Financial Crisis?

business-as-unusualThe financial crisis that started in 2007, peaked in 2008 and continues to persist into 2009 sparked an international debate on how business education created (and possibly could have prevented) this whole ordeal. Business school curriculum drew scrutiny, admissions standards were criticized, and students signed ethics pledges – all in the hope of clearing the name of the now maligned MBA.

But is the current PR blitz just an exercise in crisis reputation management or will it actually change how business school educates future leaders? While the conversation may continue for years to come, We’ve been exploring the student perspective on how graduate business programs are addressing sustainable and ethical leadership today.

This year, in our annual Business as UNusual guide, Net Impact members and students at schools throughout the world shared their perspectives on how well (or how poorly) their business program tackles issues around social and environmental responsibility. More than 85 schools submitted profiles for this year’s guide, providing sustainability details on each program’s admissions process, core curriculum, student activities, notable graduates and career services. This year we noticed a lot of continuing positive trends.

Especially remarkable is how many students are moving beyond the act of simply signing an ethics pledge to creating lasting positive impact in their business school program and the world. For example, at Northwestern’s Kellogg School students worked with the administration to create the SEEK program, which directly applies the rigor of business school classes to social and environmental concerns. And Net Impact members at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad raised $22,000 and organized relief programs to help a region hurt by flood. Other programs are working to require ethics, CSR and sustainable leadership courses as part of their core curriculum, and more still are finding ways to integrate social and environmental values to all parts of their business education.

Will these trends continue? We hope Business as UNusual, which we started in 2006, will continue to help prospective students find out. It will be useful not only for students seeking a better business education, but also for schools to stack themselves against peers and develop stronger social impact curricula, career services, and support for student activities.

We can always use your help – tell us what you think about Business as UNusual by emailing us at or post your feedback to our Facebook page.

In addition to producing the guide, Net Impact will also address business education issues at its annual conference, which will be held November 13-14, 2009 at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Download the guide.
Register for the conference.

About Net Impact
Net Impact is an international nonprofit organization with a mission is to inspire, educate, and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. Spanning six continents, Net Impact’s membership makes up one of the most influential networks of MBAs, graduate students, and professionals in existence today. Net Impact members are current and emerging leaders in CSR, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, international development, and environmental sustainability who are actively improving the world. Learn more at

Net Impact 2010 will be hosted by the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Stay tuned for coverage!

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