WFU School of Business course named “Idea Worth Teaching” by Aspen Institute

5.8.2018 Awards, BB&T Center, Business & Enterprise Management, Faculty News, General, Innovation, News Release, School News, Undergraduate Business
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“Why Business?” recognized for its innovative contributions to business curriculum

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest University School of Business has been recognized as a global innovator, honored with the Ideas Worth Teaching Award from the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program for “Why Business?” course.

The Ideas Worth Teaching Awards honor extraordinary teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels that redefines excellent in business education – and ultimately business practice, according to the organization.

Wake Forest’s “Why Business?” course was developed by Jim Otteson, Thomas W. Smith chair in business ethics, over a period of three years. Otteson—a philosopher and Adam Smith expert—assembled a cross-disciplinary teaching team, including legal studies professor Matthew Phillips and economics professor Adam Hyde, to deliver the course to a broad audience of students considering a career in business.

“Why Business is an introductory course in business philosophy,” said Matthew Phillips, who is also director of the School of Business BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism. “The class asks students to think about why we would want to spend time learning about business and then engaging in business as professionals. It’s one course that introduces them to practical philosophy, business ethics, and political economy while offering an environment for thinking critically about whether the business profession is something they want to be part of.”

The “Why Business?” course is one of 20 ideas honored by the Aspen Institute for its 2017 awards, selected from a record number of nominations. The award winners represent colleges and universities in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, and Israel.

“Students come away with a sense of professional identity that is in keeping with Wake Forest’s motto ‘Pro Humanitate.’ They understand that doing well in business is also doing good for society in a way that transcends corporate social responsibility,” said Michelle Steward, a marketing professor at the School of Business who was so fascinated by the concept that she audited the semester-long course.

“After taking this class, I approach my team projects very differently. My approach is ‘how can I better my team instead of just getting the grade?’ I look at my work in a more holistic way,” said Rachel Mair (BS ‘20), a business and enterprise management major at the School of Business. “I want to make a change in the world, and I think the most effective way I can do it is through business.”

The Ideas Worth Teaching Awards were established to celebrate curricula that bring to life the promise of meaningful work in business – showing students the “choice points” available to firms and managers in realms like sustainability or the future of work.  This year’s winning courses focus on critical social issues ripped from the headlines – populism, water scarcity and artificial intelligence among them – and illuminate how and why these issues are business issues

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“At a time when business leaders face intense scrutiny about their role in social issues, these award-winning faculty are bravely challenging the ‘norms’ of what is taught in business school—and creating leaders who can navigate a highly uncertain environment,” explains Claire Preisser, Associate Director of Aspen BSP.

The Ideas Worth Teaching Award winners will be recognized at Working Towards Shared Prosperity: An Academic-Executive Dialogue, a convening in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Oct. 26-27, 2018.

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

Media contact:  Stephanie Skordas, or 336.758.4098