There is a long piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education on new findings about undergraduate business programs.
In their new book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, the sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report that on a national test of writing and reasoning skills, business majors had the weakest gains during the first two years of college. And when business students take the GMAT, the entry examination for M.B.A. programs, they score lower than do students in every other major.
Score one for Nussbaum’s version of higher education (even if we keep score according to the instrumentalist approach to education).
Later in the article, programs that blend business and liberal arts are examined.
A forthcoming report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching praises 10 American colleges of business as models for integrating the liberal arts and practical training.
One of the objects of praise is business-oriented Babson College. Its president, Leonard A. Schlesinger, says that concrete business skills tend to expire in five years or so, as technology and organizations change. History and philosophy, on the other hand, provide the kind of contextual knowledge and reasoning skills that are indispensable for business students.
And finally, looking at it from the standpoint of future employers:
According to national surveys, they want to hire 22-year-olds who can write coherently, think creatively, and analyze quantitative data. They’re perfectly happy to hire English or biology majors. Most Ivy League universities and elite liberal-arts colleges, in fact, don’t even offer undergraduate business majors.