Over the last few years, there has been a dramatic shift in how businesses operate, which has served to usher in a new era of business and business education.
The pandemic has caused a rethinking of numerous business functions and a fuller realization that business success is intertwined with conditions outside the immediate confines of office buildings. Concurrently, the impacts of climate change are becoming more fully understood, and businesses are adapting as a result. In addition, the rising issues of racial and social equity that businesses are being held accountable for and the transformative impact of technology on business all combine for a “perfect storm” that sets the stage for a new era of business.
Business education needs to adapt to prepare professionals and leaders to be effective in this new era unfolding in front of us. To do so requires a deep understanding of how businesses can and should play a positive role in making the world a better place.
An indicator of the tectonic shift underway was the 2019 Statement of Purpose of a Corporation signed by 181 of the chief operating officers of America’s leading companies. Known as the Business Roundtable, the group’s statement declared that a company serves the needs of all its stakeholders. The statement included commitments to development and compensating employees fairly, fostering “diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect,” interacting fairly with suppliers, enhancing the communities a business is involved with, supporting sustainable practices, and generating “long-term value” for shareholders.
It is clear that business needs are intertwined with the demands of our communities, nations, and world – thus the commitment by those leading CEOs in 2019. At that time, they pledged to lead their companies to benefit all stakeholders, ushering in a new era of corporate responsibility.
University of Redlands School of Business & Society
The University of Redlands School of Business took steps toward this new approach in 2018 by stating its mission as “empowering professionals to positively impact business and society.” We infused our program with initiatives like Purposeful Leadership and the Master of Science in Organization Leadership (MSOL) program. These are designed to develop leaders who can guide tomorrow’s companies. We help students understand how to identify purpose on the levels of self, teams, organization, and society and how to employ those dimensions to shape organizational strategies that have an impact. We also strengthened the analytical component of the mission, especially through the use of business location analytics. The Spatial Business Initiative and the new Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) are designed to develop analysts that can incorporate a host of business, economic, and societal “big data” in making business choices and strategies. We have expanded our academic portfolio of degree and non-degree offerings in collaboration with related College of Arts and Sciences programs at the University of Redlands. These new curricular elements taught on ground and online will permit distinctive pathways for professional and traditional students.
As a commitment to achieving our mission to positively impact business and society, in May 2021, the University of Redlands School of Business received approval from the Board of Trustees to change its name to the University of Redlands School of Business & Society. More than a change of title, this new name signifies our ongoing mission to equip students with essential 21st century skills that improve both bottom lines and social value for all enterprises. To do that, we are focusing on seven pillars that guide us in delivering integrated business education.
In making this change, we fully considered how our school supports students and the global business community they impact. We reflected on our view of business as a principal means for delivering value to consumers, organizations, regions, and the global community.
We also considered how the concepts, methods, and skills students learn here uniquely prepare them to succeed at delivering this value as analysts, managers, leaders, and entrepreneurs and to do so in a manner that recognizes the economic, technological, cultural, and societal trends and challenges that constitute contemporary business environments.
Doers, Dreamers, & Trailblazers
Some 40 years ago, the University of Redlands began offering business education for professionals through the Alfred North Whitehead College of Liberal and Career Studies. Twenty years later, a second era began when the business programs were elevated into the School of Business. Since then, the School has provided graduate and select undergraduate degrees to tens of thousands of professionals who have gone on to lead successful careers and lives.
This change to the School of Business & Society marks the beginning of the third era for us, and new programs will further extend our distinctiveness beyond purposeful leadership, business ethics, and location analytics to encompass a broader array of “pillars.” It does represent a sea change, a change warranted by how the world has changed around us, warranted by changes in the manner in which businesses have become more interwoven with the world around them, and warranted by changes in what is expected from business schools and graduating students. We embrace this new era and what it promises and look forward to training the next generation of doers, dreamers, and trailblazers.
Our Next Step in Mission Fulfillment
The issues that businesses are facing now always involve broader societal considerations. Therefore, it is incumbent upon business schools like ours to prepare students to be those new business leaders. By building on the seven pillars of the former School of Business, the new School of Business & Society is the next big step in fulfilling our mission: to help students develop critical insight and the skills necessary to strengthen their career opportunities in today's ever-changing business climate.
The School of Business & Society also creates new pathways for undergraduate majors through 4+1 programs to the MBA and M.S. in Business Analytics. Additional collaborations are underway with faculty and programs that include business and society elements.
A longtime supporter of the University, Esri President Jack Dangermond, applauded the effort as "a natural evolution that will speak to the changing nature of corporate leaders that have to be created." Along these lines, Esri's recent $250,000 award to the School will be used to support research and curriculum developments in applying GIS to enhance corporate social responsibility and a new Esri-University of Redlands scholarship for historically underrepresented students to pursue such ambitions.
College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Steve Wuhs observed, “The umbrella of business and society provides students with new opportunities and pathways to strengthen their career opportunities.”
For more information, visit the University of Redlands School of Business & Society website.