Interdisciplinary business education: Curriculum through collaboration

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Education and Training, 2013, 55 (4), pp. 385 - 402
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Purpose: A modern business graduate is expected to have strong disciplinary skills as well as the soft skills of communication and team work. However today's business graduate needs to be more than the traditional "I-shaped" graduate of the past and more of the "T-shaped" graduate employers are looking for. Many undergraduate business degrees profess to offer integration of the curriculum but on investigation this occurs mainly through a capstone subject at the end of the degree. Today's business graduates need a more integrated approach to their learning. This paper aims to outline the transformation of a traditional business curriculum to one that is inter-disciplinary, outlining the necessary steps and conditions including the most challenging - faculty buy in. Design/methodology/approach: The review of the Bachelor of Business degree at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) provided an opportunity to explore the option to embrace an integrated curriculum. The authors outline how the review was shaped, the need for change and the approaches to interdisciplinary business education, and an approach to designing an interdisciplinary curriculum. They also provide two case studies. Findings: Approaches to developing an integrative curriculum can take many forms, but the most effective is one that is embedded throughout an entire degree program. This must start with a cornerstone subject to set the road map for the student's study. This subject needs to demonstrate how each discipline interrelates and how at the end of the degree through a capstone subject, this knowledge is again brought together to deal with more complex issues using the more sophisticated tools studied throughout the degree. There also needs to be a strategy that integrates the various first-year disciplinary subjects traditionally included in an undergraduate business degree. Originality/value: This paper aims to outline the transformation of a traditional business curriculum to one that is inter-disciplinary and integrated. The outcome of such an approach produces graduates with the inter-disciplinary skills that employers are looking for. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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