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31 March 2012

Business "Schools"

Here is an intriguing essay from the Social Science Research Council on how business schools became a part of universities and what that has meant for both business degrees and higher ed. Here is a selection:
...[W]hat now distinguishes university business schools from their increasing numbers of for-profit competitors is primarily the prestige and other forms of social capital accumulated by the university and generously shared by it with business schools. When the first university-based business schools were founded over a century ago, universities were willing to share this social capital so as to bring business education into the academic fold and infuse it with the university’s ideals. Why are they willing to go on sharing it now, when business schools have strayed so far from the university’s academic and societal mission?
One possible answer is that whereas a century ago business schools had to adopt the values of the university in order to establish themselves, the contemporary American university has increasingly adopted the values of business. Indeed, so thorough has been the transvaluation of values in American society generally over the last twenty-five years that one might well debate how much of their legitimacy business schools now owe to the university, and how much universities (except for the most elite) owe their legitimacy to their business schools.
Can we please have this conversation in the academe, particularly in (wannabe) liberal arts institutions? Why are we kowtowing to student--and, more accurately, students' parent--demand for professional degrees and to administration insistence on corporatization? This is neither consistent with the liberal arts mission nor the interests of our students.

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