Aspen Institute Business and Society Program Announces 2015 Faculty Pioneers

September 30, 2015

Contact:  Patricia King
Program Coordinator
Business & Society Program, The Aspen Institute


Aspen Institute Business and Society Program Announces 2015 Faculty Pioneers

NEW YORK, NY– Four professors who are leading the way in prompting business school students to think about how firms can act in the face of growing economic inequality have been named winners of this year’s prestigious Aspen Faculty Pioneer Awards. The honorees, announced today by the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, are:

  • David Besanko, IBM Professor of Regulation and Competitive Practices at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
  • Shawn Cole, John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration in the Finance Unit at the Harvard Business School at Harvard University.
  • Dima Jamali, Kamal Shair Chair in Responsible Leadership and Professor at the Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut.
  • Thomas Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and Co-Director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research at MIT.

The Faculty Pioneer Awards were established in 1999 to celebrate educators who demonstrate leadership and risk-taking — and blaze a trail toward curriculum that deeply examines the relationships between capital markets, firms, and the public good.

The focus of this year’s call for nominations was to recognize and honor faculty who are teaching about inequality in their MBA classrooms, said Claire Preisser, who manages the Faculty Pioneer selection process as associate director of the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program.

“When thinking about remedies to inequality, people naturally reach into the policy sphere for solutions,” Preisser said. “Policy interventions are very important, but historically business has been a key actor in building and sustaining a middle class. We believe that today’s business students need to be prompted more often to think about how the everyday choices in firms can build shared prosperity—or work against it. The faculty members we honor this year are doing just that.”

The fact that some faculty at top-ranked MBA programs are addressing inequality in the classroom is especially encouraging, said Judith Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program.

“We are very encouraged that these classroom discussions are happening, and happening at top-ranked schools—and are eager to see more faculty follow suit,” Samuelson said. “This year’s Faculty Pioneers are bringing inequality out of the ethics classroom and into the classes that really matter in the MBA curriculum.”

Syllabi from the courses taught by these faculty and additional details about their approaches to teaching are available at Selection criteria for the 2015 award are also available on this site. 

The Aspen Institute Business & Society Program will recognize the Faculty Pioneer Award Winners at Business and Inequality: A Dialogue on Business and Business Education in New York on Thursday, October 15. The event will focus on how business schools can most effectively prepare students to lead companies in ways that produce a vibrant economy that works for all.

Nominations for these awards were submitted by respected academics around the world.   Award winners were selected by Aspen Institute staff in consultation with academic advisers:  Dr. Bruce Buchanan, Stern School of Business, New York University; Dr. Bruce Hutton, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver; Dr. Maureen Scully, University of Massachusetts, Boston; and Dr. Peter Tufano, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. 

Established in 1998 and building on over 60 years of Aspen Institute programming, the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program (BSP) helps established and emerging business leaders put values at the heart of practice. Through dialogue, research, and outreach, Aspen BSP creates opportunities for executives and educators to explore new routes to business sustainability and values-based leadership.  For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.  The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit



Faculty Pioneer Award Winner
David A. Besanko
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Professor David Besanko is the IBM Professor of Regulation and Competitive Practices at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Professor Besanko teaches courses in public economics and infrastructure strategy at the Kellogg School. Besanko has received the two most prestigious teaching awards at the Kellogg School: the L.G. Lavengood Professor of the Year Award in 1995 and again in 2010, and the Alumni Choice Teaching Award in 2006. In 2013 he was a finalist for the Aspen Faculty Pioneer Award.

Professor Besanko’s research covers topics relating to the intersection of competitive strategy and public policy, the economics of regulation, and the theory of the firm. He has published over 45 articles in leading professional journals in economics and business and is a co-author of Economics of Strategy and of Microeconomics. Besanko served as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs: Strategy and Planning at the Kellogg School from 2007-2009 and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs: Curriculum and Teaching at Kellogg from 2001-2003.

Faculty Pioneer Award Winner
Shawn A. Cole
Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Shawn Cole is the John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration in the Finance Unit at Harvard Business School (HBS), where he teaches and conducts research on financial services and social enterprise topics. Much of his research examines corporate and household finance in emerging markets, with a focus on insurance, credit, and savings. He has also done extensive work on financial education in the US and emerging markets. His recent research focuses on designing and delivering advice and education over mobile phones, with an emphasis on agricultural and financial management.

At HBS, he has taught FIN1 and FIN2 in the core curriculum, Business at the Base of the Pyramid, and courses on impact investing, as well various executive education courses. He currently teaches the PhD development sequence in the department of Economics, and a course for students enrolled in the dual-degree program at Harvard Kennedy and Harvard Business Schools.

Faculty Pioneer Award Winner
Dima Jamali
Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut

Dr. Dima Jamali is Professor in the Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut and currently holding the Kamal Shair Chair in Responsible Leadership. Her research and teaching revolve primarily around Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Social Entrepreneurship (SE). She is the author/editor of three books and over 50 international publications, focusing on different aspects of CSR in developing countries and the Middle East.

She is also winner of the 2010 Shoman Prize for best young Arab researcher, which recognizes distinctive scientific works that contribute to addressing priority issues at the local, regional and international levels.  Dr. Jamali was also winner of the 2013 Eisenhower Fellows Program, joining a global network of leading professionals committed to collaborate for a more prosperous, just and peaceful world and the British Academy of Management Fellowship for South Asia and the Middle East in 2007 which identifies and supports scholars with exceptional potential and trajectory from the South Asia / Middle East region.

Faculty Pioneer “Lifetime Achievement” Award Winner
Thomas A. Kochan
Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Thomas A. Kochan is the George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations at MIT Sloan School of Management and Co-Director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research.  From 2009 to 2011 he served as Chair of the MIT Faculty. Prof. Kochan came to MIT in 1980 from Cornell University where he was on the faculty of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations from 1973 to 1980.

His 2005 book, Restoring the American Dream:  A Working Families’ Agenda for America, lays out a progressive strategy for restoring dignity to work and updating national policies to meet the needs of today’s working families. His two most recent books, both published in 2008 are Up in the Air:  How Airlines can Improve Performance by Engaging their Employees and Healing Together:  The Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership.

Prof. Kochan is a Past President of both the International Industrial Relations Association and the Industrial Relations Research Association (IRRA). He is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators.  He was awarded an Doctor Honoris Cause from the University de San Martin de Porres de Lima’ in 1999 and an honorary Doctor’s degree from the University of Sydney in 2014.  He received the Heneman Career Achievement Award from the Human Resources Division of the Academy of Management in 1996. He was elected to the National Academy of Human Resources in 1997.  In 1998 he received the Cushing-Gavin Award from the Labor Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston.  He was named the Centennial Visiting Professor from The London School of Economics in 1995.  In 2008 he was named an Inaugural Fellow of the Labor and Employment Relations Association.  From 1993 to 1995 he served on Clinton Administration’s Commission on the Future of Worker/Management Relations.  He is co-founder of the Massachusetts Education Partnership, a multi-party initiative working to improve student achievement through collaborative labor management relations.


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