UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business pursued curriculum reform using a barbell approach. The macro end is pinned down with a leader archetype, that of an innovative, path-bending leader, plus a supporting and explicit culture now deeply embedded in admissions. The micro end is pinned down with a set of ten capabilities that are extended and integrated throughout the curriculum (e.g., problem framing). The connection to action is achieved through a new requirement in experiential learning that allows students to select among many options (e.g., a Cleantech-to-Market course). The school followed a particularly high-touch approach to gain the buy-in of its faculty.
“To what end all this curriculum change? What tethers the ‘vision’?” Every Dean has received such questions – from a Board member, alum, faculty member, whomever. Another common question: “Let’s get concrete – exactly what will these graduates be able to do that sets them apart?” In today’s business school marketplace, there is less room for, and tolerance of, more traditional ‘middle-ware’ curriculum reforms that outline changes, but fail to articulate a higher- order destination, or a set of concrete enabling skills.
This article addresses our experience here at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and some resulting lessons...