Volume 13 No. 1 SPRING 2012

New Viewpoint for Undergraduate Classes

Smith students will be getting a broader, more systemic view of business thanks to some recent changes to the core undergraduate curriculum. Starting this year, all business students will be required to take “Introduction to the Business Value Chain” during their first year at the school.

“In the past, students learned about the different functional areas, but they never really saw how these things related to each other until their senior year. We wanted to get them thinking about the organization as a whole first. Start with the system, then look at the individual components,” says Philip T. Evers, associate professor of logistics management and chair of the undergraduate program committee. “With this course, we’re giving students a macro perspective from the start, allowing them to see the entire value chain. From there, students will narrow their focus to functional areas, and then come back to the big picture as we talk about strategy later in the program.”

The introductory management, finance and marketing courses are also now being taught in smaller, 60-person classes, instead of giant lecture sessions (the introductory information systems course was already taught in smaller sections). This allows for deeper learning and more interaction between faculty and students. The committee also added two one-credit requirements, one of which is designed to give students a chance to further explore a functional area in the context of an industry, like real estate or sports management, or a skill set, like negotiation.

Going forward, the committee hopes to link the introductory classes so that students take all four of them in the same semester. That would allow faculty to coordinate the material they teach, using common examples and building an interconnected body of knowledge. “Students could learn a technique like net present value analysis in their finance course, and then use it in a marketing application in their marketing class,” says Evers. “Or they could look at cases from different perspectives. That is our ultimate goal.”

The committee is also working to incorporate global competencies and a social responsibility focus into every major offered at Smith, and to expand opportunities for students to take part in internships for credit.

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