Tomorrow’s leaders should define and deliver value to all stakeholders. To prepare them for that responsibility, we need to remake business education. We show students the critical role that business plays in addressing the world’s problems by providing hands-on, thought-provoking, and distinctive learning experiences.
Impact Fellows Program
While talent may be equally distributed, opportunity is not. The George Mason School of Business serves many students who are under-represented in business: over 40 percent are the first in their family to attend college, over 30 percent receive Pell Grants, and only 25 percent identify as white Americans. To ensure these students are given every opportunity to thrive, B4BW is taking a bold and pioneering approach to engage those at risk of being left behind.
Designed to equip tomorrow’s business leaders with the skills to make positive change in the world, the Impact Fellows Program delivers an innovative education tailored to first-year students from groups underrepresented in business. This includes members of lower socioeconomic status, first-generation college students, students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and disabled students.
Launched in Fall 2020 with its first cohort of 30 students, over two years these students will learn about social impact anchored in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The program will prepare these students to tackle society’s most pressing challenges.
Impact Fellows will:
- Move as a cohort through the Business and Society curriculum (Business and Society and Global Environment of Business). These courses uniquely blend business and the liberal arts so students can contextualize their knowledge of business thereby preparing them to address complex problems in a diverse and changing world.
- Participate in co-curricular activities like private opportunities to engage with speakers, visit impact organizations, and earn the Global Engagement badge.
- Enjoy the support of peer, faculty, and professional mentors as well as an academic adviser assigned to the cohort.
- Experience complex challenges in context in different regions or cultures through a domestic or international residency at the end of their first year.
- Engage in project-based learning experiences including a student-driven social impact initiative in their second year that will earn the Mason Impact designation.
- Work in a mission-focused organization through the Impact Internship Program at the end of their second year.
Studying Social Change to Advance Community Organizations
Through a $60,000 award from the Office of the Provost, B4BW has begun work on a Summer Team Impact Project, addressing the question: How do approaches to social change result in meaningful advancement of community organization goals with people, planet, and prosperity in mind?
Students in the bootcamp work with faculty, graduate students, and community partners to understand a specific organization’s context and challenges, articulate a specific research question aligned with a community need, and investigate theories and methods to address social change including market-based solutions. Though this work spans two academic years, and is not yet completed, ultimately, it will serve as the basis for a proposal that will be presented to the community organization and at OSCAR’s celebration of scholarship in the fall of 2021.
Knowing that the next generation of change leaders must be prepared to apply skills and knowledge across a range of disciplines and to work across disciplines and sectors to make change, for our Summer Team Impact Project, we brought together business and liberal arts students, adding to their existing skills and knowledge. The project emphasized work around two of the United Nations SDGs in which Mason and B4BW has demonstrated interest and strength: SDG 3, Good Health and Wellbeing, and SDG 10, Reducing Inequalities.
Developing Better World Curriculum
Led by B4BW, the School of Business is actively engaged in the development of several new courses, including a course on social impact and entrepreneurship with a global study abroad component. The first offering is BUS 491, launched in Spring 2020, a course focused on stakeholder capitalism.
More recently, thanks to a Curriculum Impact Grant, awarded by the Office of the Provost, we are leading a team of faculty, staff, and administrators to design an innovative minor called Business for a Better World.
Our effort will create, in the School of Business, a cross-disciplinary minor focused on the United Nations SDGs. The minor will allow students to explore the idea that business has agency and can help solve today’s global challenges through cross-sector collaboration. Drawing from a set of newly designed required courses, existing electives, and experiential learning opportunities, this multidisciplinary minor will offer a transformative learning experience for tomorrow’s global leaders by integrating expertise from a variety of disciplines to diagnose problems and design solutions for some of the world’s most significant challenges.
With this minor, students will learn to:
- Evaluate global challenges (the UN Global Goals),
- Examine the purpose of a corporation (and evaluate the competitive advantage of a purpose-driven business),
- Examine the broader environmental, political, and social landscape in which business operates, including the role of government, investors, and customers,
- Explore why collective efforts matter and how business can be a catalyst for system-level change to global challenges,
- Understand and analyze the business models that drive change, and
Examine the skills of purpose-driven leaders.
Global Study Abroad
Challenging yourself, expanding your worldview, learning a new language – these are just a few reasons why study abroad opportunities are an important part of a modern education. Through our own work establishing a trip based on our Honey Bee Initiative, and by collaborating with faculty who develop programming, B4BW supports the Business School’s many study abroad offerings.