Notre Dame Business School Introduces Foresight as a Requirement for Undergraduates by Clem Bezold, Institute for Alternative Futures

dimanche 19 septembre 2010

More and more universities are including foresight in their curriculum. There are 18 futures or foresight graduate programs around the world, and many other schools or centers that offer courses on futures or foresight. A list of these programs and institutions is available under Projects at John Smart’s & Shaping Tomorrow’s Foresight Education & Research Network, www.fernweb.org. A list of foresight programs around the globe is also available at the Acceleration Studies Foundation website, http://accelerating.org.

Business schools are adding more explicit foresight offerings as well. In the Washington DC area, American University business Professor Erran Carmel offers a foresight course. The University of Maryland is developing offerings as well. However the first undergraduate business school we are aware of that requires all business majors to take a foresight course is the University of Notre Dame. Here is how they describe it :

In 2009, the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business introduced a new course, Junior Research Challenge : Foresight in Business and Society. The purpose of this required course is to take a bold step forward in business education by introducing all junior-level students to a futurist’s perspective into societal issues and their impact on business.

"You cannot lead if you don’t know what is coming at you, and where the opportunities for growth are," said Carolyn Y. Woo, Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College, who developed the initial vision of the course based on feedback from senior business executives who viewed foresights skills as essential for the next generation of business leaders. "Foresight in Business and Society exposes students to trends and helps them develop critical assessment skills, so they can understand the actions necessary for solving the big-picture issues."

The course begins with an exploration of major emerging challenges, including sustainability, population growth, climate change, and issues caused by changing demographics. Student teams are required to conduct an in-depth analysis of a specific topic to assess change, trends, expected and alternative futures, and business implications for achieving positive outcomes. Each team creates an extensive futures research report which is presented at the end of the semester.

The Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame is the first business school to require this type of course as part of its core curriculum. Professors Sam Miller, Suzanne Coshow, and Chad Harms comprise the faculty team teaching the course to over 600 students each academic year. Miller – who was identified by BusinessWeek in 2009 as one of “Twenty-One People Who Will Change Business” – said that the foresight course stretches students to develop critical, systems, and creative thinking skills. They also must demonstrate the ability to think broadly, and to think forward as they prepare to enter the workforce.

More information on the foresight course, including a feature video, is also available here : http://bizmagazine.nd.edu/article/?id=34.

About the Mendoza College of Business
The Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame is a premier Catholic business school that fosters academic excellence while promoting the ideals of individual integrity, effective organizations and the greater good. The College offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as both nonprofit and traditional executive development programs. Graduate degrees include the Notre Dame MBA, Executive MBA, Master of Nonprofit Administration and Master of Science in Accountancy. Mendoza currently is ranked No. 1 by Bloomberg Businessweek for its undergraduate program, and No. 20 for both its Executive MBA and its MBA programs. For more information, visit www.business.nd.edu.