Faculty & Leadership Blog / Innovative Curriculum

Babson College Professor Gaurab Bhardwaj Among 2016 Aspen Faculty Pioneer Award Winners

This year’s distinguished Aspen Faculty Pioneer Award winners are innovative business professors teaching about the most pressing “grand challenges” faced by our society and environment today – such as climate change, inequality, global health, financial inclusion, human rights, resource scarcity, economic development and more. The honorees, announced today by the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, include:

Gaurab Bhardwaj

Gaurab Bhardwaj

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 (at the MBA level) about business practices that help corporations confront and solve society’s grand challenges.

“This year’s Faculty Pioneers are leading the charge toward a more modern version of business education,” said Claire Preisser, who manages the Faculty Pioneer selection process as associate director of the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program. “Against the backdrop of society’s ever-increasing expectation of firms, business education is still organized around preparing students to be profit maximizers – focusing them on financial, largely short-term measures of business success. Instead, our Award winners equip students with the kind of problem-solving skills that firms need to make a positive impact on the most pressing issues of our time.”

“We are inspired by these Faculty Pioneers who are pursuing diverse approaches to teaching and curriculum design, giving countless other academics the opportunity to follow suit,” said Judith Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program. “This year’s award winners are drawing on a diversity of disciplines to prepare students to be problem-solvers, change agents and strategists around issues that really matter.”

Syllabi for these award-winning courses and additional details about the teaching approaches are available at online www.FPAwards.aspeninstitute.org. Full biographies of the winners and the selection criteria for the 2016 award are also available on this site.

Faculty Pioneer Award winners will be recognized at Aspen’s Management Education Roundtable in Pocantico Hills, New York on Oct. 26-27. This invite-only gathering will bring together approximately twenty-five faculty and deans from leading business programs to discuss how to best tackle our world’s grand challenges within higher education.

Award nominations were submitted by respected academics and business leaders from 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. Anita McGahan, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

The Aspen Institute is proud to recognize the achievements of these Faculty Pioneers and share their course curricula and pedagogies with our global network of faculty, deans, and business practitioners.

About Gaurab Bhardwaj

“I am an associate professor of strategy and management at Babson where I teach required courses in strategy and an elective “Solving Big Problems” to undergraduates and MBAs.  I also teach in executive education programs.  My research is on decision making processes for solving big problems.

My interest in big societal problems goes back decades to growing up in India.  Watching some positive changes take shape, I concluded that business contributed greatly to improving the lives of many.  To learn more, I completed an MBA at Northeastern University in Boston.  Then, realizing that there was even more to learn, I joined the PhD program in business at the University of Pittsburgh.  There, I investigated how businesses make long term decisions when the payoffs are uncertain and in the far future.  I thought it would help me understand a piece of the big problems puzzle.  I specialized in field research, historical methods, qualitative analysis, and theory building.  After joining Babson’s faculty, I continued on to study the creation of two women’s hospitals in India, a medical diagnostics company that transformed cervical cancer testing, and a business that provides economic independence to women rescued from sex trafficking.  My latest project is a book on the recent Ebola epidemic studied from a decision making and organizational perspectives.

Through my teaching, research, and writing I am trying to play a small, even though indirect, part in solving big problems.”

The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program (Aspen BSP), founded in 1998, works with business executives and scholars to align business decisions and investments with the long-term health of society—and the planet. Through carefully designed networks, working groups and focused dialogue, the Program identifies and inspires thought leaders and “intrapreneurs” to challenge conventional ideas about capitalism and markets, to test new measures of business success and to connect classroom theory and business practice. The Business and Society Program is most known for the First Movers Fellowship, for dialogue on curbing short-termism in business and capital markets, and for fresh thinking about the Purpose of the corporation. For more information, visit www.aspenbsp.org.

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 www.aspeninstitute.org.