Almost one in five bachelor’s degrees earned in the United States is a business degree, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Education. And that may actually understate the growth of business education—it doesn’t account for undergraduate minors, nor for the students who major in economics at schools where business degrees aren’t on offer. But a panel of educators moderated by Samuelson at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute andThe Atlantic, emphasized the need to ensure that these degrees provide a robust education. (The panel was drawn from participants in the Aspen Undergraduate Business Education Consortium, an initiative that’s promoting the tighter integration of the liberal arts into business curricula.)
Finding workers who ask those questions can pay off—literally—for businesses. “We have become so myopic in solving business problems that we don’t think about those problems from the perspective of other disciplines,” said Charles Iacovou, dean of the school of business at Wake Forest University. And that sort of context offers a critical competitive edge, even if not all undergraduates understand that. “More reflective education is the kind of thing they push back on,” Walker said. “But this is what businesses are telling us they need.”
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