Back to business school: How to teach to today's economy?
To help their students prepare for new economic realities in the US and abroad, business school professors must focus on what drives or inhibits entrepreneurial activity, as well as the role of entrepreneurs in shaping culture through how they conduct themselves in their work.
I still look forward to the beginning of classes each fall. I am excited to see the new groups of faces in each of my classes. I am excited to try out the new materials and new pedagogical approaches I worked on over the summer. I still get a few butterflies in my stomach when I first step in the classroom the first day of classes.Skip to next paragraph
Jeff is the Jack C. Massey Chair in Entrepreneurship and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
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This fall I am teaching two undergraduate classes here at Belmont.
Venture Planning is a class that I teach at least one section every semester. It is the final course that our entrepreneurship majors, minors, and social entrepreneurship majors all have to take before they graduate.
A couple of years ago I made a fundamental shift to make this more of a business modeling class than a traditional business plan class. Although I continue to refine and tweak the new approach, the results of the change to business modeling have been remarkable. The final reports in the class are much stronger and we have more students feeling ready to move ahead with their businesses when they graduate.
Even in the face of what seems to most of them as a permanent recession — it has been the economic reality since this group first entered college in 2008 — this group is excited about the future.
My other class this year is somewhat of a new class for me. I have taught International Entrepreneurship to students studying abroad, but I never have taught it in a classroom on campus before.
We are not just looking at the nuts and bolts of internationalizing an entrepreneurial venture, although that is where we will end up at the end of the term. Instead, we are beginning looking at some big questions and issues.
Our first topic is quite fundamental, yet profoundly important in today’s world. Is market capitalism moral? Does engaging in capitalism corrupt one’s character?
We will then focus on what drives entrepreneurial activity — or in many cases what inhibits it — around the globe. We will explore the role of culture and public policy issues such as taxation, regulation and property rights. We will also look at the role of entrepreneurs in shaping culture through how they conduct themselves in their work.
These are incredibly timely issues given the debate not only here in the U.S., but around the globe.
We will be exploring these issues not from a political viewpoint, but at a policy and cultural level examining what empirical research tells us about each of these issues.
I am so glad to be back in the classroom again this fall. I guess someday this may no longer be the case — I may no longer feel the magic of that first day of classes each year. I have seen this day come for many a colleague over the years.
And when that day comes I know it will be time to walk away from the whiteboard and hang up the shingle for my bait shop!
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