Professor David Nersessian: Multidisciplinary Approaches and Social Enterprise at Babson College
One of the great things about Babson, apart from the high priority that it places on excellence in teaching, is that the College truly values interdisciplinary collaboration among its faculty. In my view, the best solutions to the tremendous challenges facing the business sector (not to mention those facing our evolving global society at large) will emerge through multidisciplinary initiatives, where the best ideas from multiple fields of thought are brought to bear on problems in new and creative ways.
Babson encourages this kind of thinking though its broad conception of intellectual vitality in faculty research. This vitality embraces a holistic view of learning that encompasses not only cutting edge academic projects, but also research output of immediate interest to the wider business community and social innovators. It also encompasses a deep wealth of contributions dedicated to pedagogy itself. Multi-disciplinary thinking drives Babson’s teaching and curriculum design as well.
This mindset encourages learning outside the classroom as well as within it. For example, as Babson’s faculty lead for UN PRME (Principles on Responsible Management Education) Initiatives, I work closely with Babson’s Lewis Institute to enhance and expand the role of social innovation and sustainability in the learning experience at Babson. (Babson’s PRME report covering 2015-17 will be issued soon, but prior reports are available here). Babson was one of the first US institutions to adopt the PRME commitments and has been a leader in the PRME Champions Group ever since.
Babson’s undergraduates can work toward a concentration in sustainability while receiving practical experience through internships with Babson’s Sustainability Office or by exploring social justice issues and gender equality through the College’s Gender Film Initiative.
For MBA students, Babson offers a cutting edge Business & Social Innovation Intensity Track, which focuses on developing the mindset, skills and competencies involved in creating economic and social value simultaneously (not sequentially). The track requires both course work and entrepreneurial experiences to practice the concepts of social innovation and includes rapidly-evolving content relating to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which represent a grand challenge to humanity between now and 2030.
Babson’s intellectual leadership in social innovation simply is another facet of the College’s overarching commitment to developing Entrepreneurs of All Kind® – entrepreneurial leaders who create great economic and social value – everywhere.