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Future MBA

The Future MBA, week 9: Green spaces and green courses

For 100 days I am posting 100 ways that we could rethink and reimagine the MBA, to transform it into a tool for creating the sustainable leaders that our organizations and the planet need.

I’ll explore all aspects of the MBA, ranging from curriculum and research to partnerships and campus activities. Some ideas could be put into practice tomorrow while others would require a complete rethinking of the way we view the MBA.

This brainstorming of ideas is meant to encourage discussion, so please share your thoughts and comments and elaborate on the ideas you find the most interesting.

Day 57: Life/work balance (part 1)

The environment in which we work in the future will be much different from what it is today. Fixed working days, long hours, short vacations will be replaced with more flexible options that see productivity and innovation increase substantially. There will be a renewed focus on what is important — a balance between work, life, family, friends, community — without being at the expense of business. We will work smarter.

In order for this necessary change to happen, we will need our future leaders to have a better understanding and respect for the importance of life in the life/work balance and how they can help create a business environment that accepts, supports and thrives on this shift in balance.

The Future MBA will have a range of experiences throughout the program that not only will provide an overview of some challenges of balancing work and life at different stages of the student’s career but also will expose students to a range of issues that they, or those that work around or eventually for them, may experience through their working lives. This includes the changes that having a family has on your career and how to provide a space to enable parents to be more successful at both roles, including paternity and maternity leaves.

Having a better understanding of these topics also will enable students to better respond to co-workers' situations and create a work environment that brings the best out of those working within it.

Day 58: The Natural Environment

The MBA is an intense, one- to two-year program focused on business. But the business sector operates within a much wider environment that is not fully explored or presented within the degree, yet it significantly affects and is affected by the business sector. How can we create a generation of graduates that have a better understanding of the world that business works within?

The Natural Environment is a series of core courses focused on providing students with a basic but sound background of what is happening on planet Earth and how our natural environment affects the way we work today and in the future. The Natural Environment covers lessons students may have been introduced to in elementary and high school but long since have forgotten. Topics covered will include an introduction to biodiversity, climate, ecosystems, water and how the world’s systems are connected. It also will explore the impact that humans have on the planet, both positive and negative, and the range of international goals, targets and organizations working to strengthen and protect the natural environment at the local, national, regional and international level.

Day 59: Mini MBA

The skills taught in an MBA are important to anyone’s career, regardless of educational background. Whether you have trained as a doctor, an engineer, an artist or an even an athlete, these skills can be extremely useful.

With this in mind, the Future MBA may no longer be a one- or two-year program but a shorter program done at the end of other masters degree programs. Once students finish masters level studies in economics, English literature or architecture, they then have access to a short, interdisciplinary MBA program where they learn the leadership, entrepreneurship and sustainability-related skills that can be applied in their field. In this way, all graduates will be better prepared to make meaningful contributions in their disciplines and managers going into the business sector will have a variety of specialized backgrounds to use in the increasingly connected business environment.

Day 60: Start a business

Some of the most popular courses during the MBA are related to entrepreneurship. A large number of students and graduates have plans to one day start their own business and this course shows how to do that. The Future MBA will provide an opportunity for students to not just learn about starting a business but to actually start one during their time on campus.

At each of a series of 24/48-hour boot camps, a group of students will need to present a business idea and the rest of the students will help, in 24-48 hours, to get that business idea off the ground (basic business plan, website, prototypes). Students from other disciplines such as engineering, design, advisors and funders will be present. The students then will put into practice their small business idea for the duration of the program (and beyond if desired) and have opportunities to reflect on lessons learnt.

Day 61: Price based on perceived value

An MBA degree, as well as related executive programs, are some of the most expensive degree programs a student can enroll in. Is it really worth the price? How much should an MBA cost?

The Future MBA’s price will not be set by the school itself. Instead, it will fluctuate based on perceived value from those who create and take part in the program (current and past students, faculty, staff, business partners) as well as the wider environment that benefits from outputs created by the program (graduates, research).

Day 62: Flexible course structure

A typical degree program includes a range of three- to four-month courses organized in terms. Students meet for a few hours a week or a day to discuss that topic. The Future MBA will have a range of more flexible course formats. Some courses will be three months long; others will last the whole MBA. A wide range of short courses will last just one week, or even 24 or 48 hours based on the topic and learning objectives. There will be traditional courses where you listen and participate, and others which are hands-on entrepreneurial sprints where you take an idea and put it into practice in one week or even 24 hours. A month could be dedicated just to looking at one topic in-depth across all courses.

Day 63: Grazing

University campuses are often spread over a large amount of land covered in buildings, landscaping and small and large green spaces including parks and even sports fields. The Future MBA campus may have a number of animals available to quietly trim and naturally fertilize the grass. The animals will be on a rotational grazing plan around the green patches on campus, managed by local farmers or school community members. This also could be an opportunity to help support local or even endangered breeds. As an additional benefit, wool from the sheep could be used to create school merchandise or meat used to celebrate reunions on campus.

Top image by Fotoluminate LLC via Shutterstock.

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