Improv, Luxuries, and Napoleon: Check out These 10 Unique MBA Courses
Business can often be unfairly characterized as a dry field. But not every business school course fits the stereotype. Check out these 10 unique and interesting MBA electives.
Columbia Business School offers this fascinating course in strategic intuition. The curriculum uses the teachings of early strategy literature as its foundation, though the bulk of readings and lectures are based on the content of two contemporary books on the subject: Napoleon’s Glance and The Art of What Works. William Duggan, the author of both books, leads the course. Duggan is a strategy expert and won the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014.
This Harvard Business School course allows MBA’s to delve into the study of the global food industry. This course is helpful for B-schoolers specifically seeking a career in agriculture, or simply those pursuing consulting or investment banking, since the food industry is so expansive. The course explores the nuances of agribusiness, including how the once strictly local industry has become increasingly globalized.
Another eyebrow-raising Harvard Business School course, Luxury Marketing helps students understand the nuances of luxury brand management. Specifically, the class will be structured in terms of three larger topics: The art of creating luxury brand equity, understanding the luxury sector, and the future of luxury. The course has seen lecturers like world-famous fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni.
Improv as a means of facilitating team building and creative thinking is a growing trend in business. That’s why MIT’s Sloan School of Management offers an entire course on improv in business. The first two weeks essentially function like an Improv 101 course, with students learning the fundamental principles of improvisational performance. The subsequent four weeks focus on application, allowing students to practice applying improv principles to real-world business decisions.
Sure, it’s not Second City, so don’t expect students to make a Comedy Bang! Bang! appearance any time soon, but the course can help one develop skills not actively taught at most other business schools.
At University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the faculty understands the value of understanding the human brain in honing business acumen. This course demonstrates just that, as it educates MBA’s in the most recent neuroscience breakthroughs and how this information can be used to predict consumer behavior, manage employees, build teams, and enhance workplace productivity, as well as honing leadership skills.
Though clothing fads aren’t the first thing people usually associate with MBA education, fashion is its own industry, and a cutthroat one at that. As part of its Luxury and Fashion MBA, New York University’s Stern School of Business offers a course on the future of fashion retail. In this course, students learn about the ever changing fashion landscape and the challenges that lie ahead as the internet cuts out the middleman between brand and customer.
Though analytical thinking is important for many aspects of business, creativity is the driving force behind most innovation and problem-solving. NYU Stern’s Creativity class nurtures students’ potential for true out-of-the-box thinking in both work and life. MBA’s learn about the science of creativity and experiment with different creative approaches to problems.
In the Nobel Thinking course at London Business School, students use actual Nobel Prize-winning topics to explore what makes a groundbreaking idea and how to emulate the type of thinking that leads to real breakthroughs. Each session chooses a topic, led by a faculty member, and explores the idea, motivations, and contributions that led to the Nobel award. The elective makes full use of LBS’s notable faculty as well as a number of guest lecturers.
London Business School also offers a Self Awareness course that helps B-schoolers learn about themselves, and their own needs and motivations. Though studying self awareness may seem more like therapy than school, more and more MBA programs are emphasizing the value of authenticity in business. Relationships are essential in business, and the Self Awareness elective trains students to understand how they are perceived by others, so they can build connections and trust as they navigate their industry.
At UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, MBA’s who take the Cleantech to Market course get to team up with scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to work on marketing advances in in solar, biofuel, battery, and smart grid/energy management tech. Business students help scientists commercialize the latest advances in sustainability.