Some Business Schools Are Taking That Second Word Seriously

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LBS, Wake Forest and Georgetown are turning their B-schools into, well, college.

The philosophy department is invading the M.B.A. program—at least at a handful of schools where the legacy of the global financial crisis has sparked efforts to train business students to think beyond the bottom line. Courses like "Why Capitalism?" and "Thinking about Thinking," and readings by Marx and Kant, give students a break from Excel spreadsheets and push them to ponder business in a broader context, schools say….

"Nobel Thinking," a new elective at London Business School explores the origins and influence of economic theories on topics like market efficiency and decision-making by some Nobel Prize winners. The 10-week course—taught by faculty from the school's economics, finance and organizational behavior departments—might not make students the next James Watson or Francis Crick, but it aims to give them a sense of how revolutionary ideas arise….

Students write narrative essays to explain how ideas—such as adverse selection, or what happens when buyers and sellers have access to different information—gain currency. Joao Montez, the economics professor leading Nobel Thinking, says he wants students to reflect, if only for a short while, on world-changing thought.

Wharton, of course, is having none of that nonsense. I mean, if people wanted to read Marx (after they pay for it, of course), there’s a political science department a few steps down Locust Walk. But it’s happy to give people a sneak peak at what a real M.B.A. education looks like.

The school introduced its first MOOC, as they are known, in 2012, setting out on an ambitious plan to reach millions of new students. The free classes, in subjects like financial accounting and marketing, don't carry any credit toward a Wharton degree, but they have given about 1.1 million participants a taste of academic life at the elite institution and a chance to learn basic business skills.

It's perhaps the most coordinated effort at any business school. Wharton will have 15 MOOCs on the Coursera Inc. education-technology platform by year-end, including four "Foundation Series" courses introduced last fall and modeled on sections of its first-year M.B.A. curriculum.

The school is still learning how best to translate its on-campus offerings to the Web, but officials say the venture has already strengthened the brand and delivered an edge over competitors in an area that could ultimately upend traditional M.B.A. programs….

Each online class costs the school $20,000 to $50,000 to create, depending on the professor's involvement in production and editing. University of Pennsylvania gets a small share of the revenue MOOC provider Coursera gets through its $49 student-verification certificate, and Wharton takes a portion of that.

Why Some M.B.A.s Are Reading Plato [WSJ]
With Free Web Courses, Wharton Seeks Edge in Traditional Programs [WSJ]

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