Business School

Crisis Lessons for Business Education

April 22, 2020  • Ideas Worth Teaching

How is business education, and the context in which it occurs, changing in light of the Covid-19 crisis? What have educators learned so far, and where do we go next?

This month, we’re shaking up our Faculty Spotlight series in order to take a multi-part look at the effects of this crisis – featuring insights, reflection and expertise from leading faculty who have been recognized with the Aspen Institute Ideas Worth Teaching Award. Each installment collects the diverse responses to a single interview question. In this final segment, we ask:

What do you want other educators to know about what you’ve learned so far during this crisis?

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Nicholas McGuigan and Alessandro Ghio

Nicholas McGuigan and Alessandro Ghio | Monash University

The move to online spaces disrupted most of our teaching delivery. However, this sudden outbreak of new spaces pushes us to imagine the future possibilities of our teaching. Interactions must remain to value human connections, but they could be extended outside the constrained space of a classroom. Let’s bring education outside into gardens, public squares and spaces, local communities, remote and rural areas. Students can thus feel, see, hear, smell and taste the multiple consequences of a neoliberalist education model. Alternative models can be explored that start to link informal learning to current business education and systems.

Nicholas McGuigan and Alessandro Ghio teach Global Issues in Accounting


Robert Sroufe

Robert Sroufe | Duquesne University

I keep reflecting on what got us to this moment in time. For the last 100 years, we have developed systems that are not resilient and succumb to shocks to the system. Let’s look at this pandemic as an opportunity to rethink things and have a vision for what we want economic systems to look like for the next 100 years and work toward the sustainable development of health care, the built environment, education, transportation, political, and economic systems.

Robert Sroufe teaches Sustainability Tools & Processes for New Initiatives


Jadranka Skorin-Kapov

Jadranka Skorin-Kapov | Stony Brook

I learned how to use Zoom and other online tools since this is my first time of teaching online. However, I prefer teaching in class, with personal contacts with my students. Nonetheless, it is good to have the online option, indispensable in this time of crisis.

Jadranka Skorin-Kapov teaches Business Ethics: Critical Thinking Through Film


Sarah Birrell Ivory

Sarah Birrell Ivory | University of Edinburgh Business School

Working at home with two kids is hard! This comment is meant to be a little light-hearted, but also serious. Cal Newport’s book Deep Work demonstrates the importance of dedicated uninterrupted time for thought and learning, which contribute to us achieving our greatest intellectual potential. Two kids who need your attention are not conducive to this. And nor, given the current state of the world, would I want it to be. Because right now they need love, support and attention as they also attempt to make sense of the current situation. But this gives me much more empathy for students I have or colleagues I work with who are carers of children, parents or others. Because it is physically timing and time-consuming, it becomes an intellectual drain as well.

Sarah Birrell Ivory teaches Global Challenges for Business


Melissa Bradley

Melissa Bradley | Georgetown University

Teaching is no longer a cut and paste exercise for professors from semester to semester. Educators will need to learn how to build community and maintain class culture, which has typically been defined by the institution. Educators will need to do more than leverage Zoom to make the experience meaningful for students since tuitions have not been reduced and competition for virtual education continues to increase.

Melissa Bradley teaches Peer to Peer Economies


Jerry Davis

Jerry Davis | University of Michigan

Virtual mini-conferences are a great idea! Travel is costly, disruptive, and environmentally unsustainable. Lots of conferences have managed to go online, and found that it is possible to have good conversations with a global catchment area online, as long as one keeps them short. (Three hours is good; three days, less so.) And content can be spread out over days or weeks. Maybe we can now think of ways to stay intellectually engaged with each other without the carbon cost.

Jerry Davis teaches Intrapreneurship: Leading Social Innovation in Organizations

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For the previous articles in this series, other Faculty Spotlights and more on the Ideas Worth Teaching Awards, visit the IWTA collection and website.