According to an MSNBC article last week, “More business schools embracing do-gooders,” social enterprise programs are becoming more sophisticated and more popular.
The article attributes this boom in social enterprise to a shift in attitude due to the economic recession, the elimination of jobs in the financial sector, and the “darkened…reputation of the banking industry.” According to Thomas Moore, dean of the College of Business Administration at Northeastern University, this attitude shift is also simply generational.
“These days students don’t want to wait,” Moore says. “They want to make a difference now. This is the curriculum that prospective students expect, and if you don’t give them the opportunity to get involved in it they will do it for themselves anyway.”
Emily Cieri, managing director of UPenn Wharton‘s entrepreneurial program agrees. “I’ve been here for 10 years,” she says, “and 10 years ago our students were primarily interested in finance and consulting.” She continues to describe when she considers a dramatic change in Wharton applicants—a shift towards social enterprise.
Cieri further attributes this attitude shift to the fact that students are more globally aware today than they were in the past. “They understand the challenges, and on a higher level they understand the opportunity to make an impact.”
Moore, Cieri, and other b-school administrators would agree that students and recent grads are no longer interested in solely making money, but in producing meaningful work using those same money-making skills. The social enterprise programs at Northeastern and Wharton are examples of the numerous similar programs that are quickly gaining popularity at top business schools around the country.
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