Boston University Overhauls MBA Program with Emphasis on Corporate Responsibility

In the wake of recent financial scandals, Boston University is leading the way in a nation-wide push for ethical training in MBA programs. This fall, the Boston University Graduate School of Management will overhaul its MBA program to put more emphasis on ethics throughout the curriculum.

“We need to hit the students hard when they first get here, remind them of these principles throughout their core classes, and hit them once again before they leave,” said SMG Professor Kabrina Chang in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Chang, an Assistant Professor of Business Law and Ethics, has been leading the initiative.

The new curriculum begins with a redesigned “Pre-Core,” in which incoming students will be faced with issues of corporate social responsibility from their first days on campus. As students round out their core requirements in their second year, they will also be required to take a new “Post-Core” course called “Ethical Leadership in a Global Economy,” designed to expose students to “how the global economy is transforming economic sectors, presenting new risks, calling forth innovation, and challenging values and norms.”

Chang hopes other professors will follow her example when it comes to implementing these changes in the classroom and beyond. “Being in a business school, sadly I take it as a given that we will need to break many of the money=happiness equation,” she writes in a recent post on the Academy of Management’s blog The Ethicist. The Academy of Management is a professional organization committed to fostering ethical business conduct.  “Breaking the equation has to happen in more than one class, and they have to see real examples… A long time ago there was an article in the New York Times about the unemployability of whistleblowers so they read that. [Another] one is Barry Schwartz’s TED Talk on the Loss of Wisdom where he talks about the job description of hospital janitors and how willing we are to look past people like that.”

Issues of ethical responsibility in MBA training have been a topic of increasing interest in recent years, and Kabrina Chang’s efforts have recently been profiled across the blogosphere in addition to the Wall Street Journal.

When the changes to the curriculum take effect this Fall, BU’s SMG will have one of the strongest and most integrated approaches to ethical education in the Boston region.

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