50+20: Reforming business education for a better world

Can universities contribute to a better and more sustainable world? This was the subject of a lecture, “Education for a better world,” which was presented by Prof. Dr. Thomas Dyllick and Dr. Katrin Muff on 9 February in Maastricht.

Dyllic and Muff believe the answer is yes. Together they helped set up the “50+20 Agenda: Management Education for the World,” an initiative that explores how the business school community can help bring change in how business is taught and done worldwide.

The idea was inspired by what Muff calls “a need for immediate action.” She says that, at the end of 2010, she realized that “business schools weren’t really doing a good job at developing the kinds of leaders we need.”

The lecture was part of the 30-year anniversary celebration of SBE, and was a joint effort of the SBE study association SCOPE | Economics and Studium Generale. Konstantin Kaufmann, second-year Economics student at UM, called the lecture “striking.”

Audience engagement, Kaufmann says, made it an impactful experience. “Muff began by asking the audience, ‘how many of you exercised today?’ and maybe 3 of 100 people there raised their hands,” he says. “And then everyone got up to stretch, touch their toes.”

Audience members were also asked to have discussions with each other about what change they would like to see in education. “It really convinced us to be critical about what we are learning, that the university should not only educate us in terms of topics but also as humans, to make us autonomous thinkers.

The last major shift in business education occurred in 1959, and the model established then is more or less what has continued until today. 50+20 was born from the belief that “the time is ripe for critical reflection on the role business and management education plays in society, today and specifically tomorrow.”

It is a global movement in exploring what fundamental changes are needed in research, education and the societal engagement of universities, in the light of challenges for sustainable development.

The vision was developed, according to the 50+20 website, “through a series of consultative workshops, retreats and meetings across 5 continents with contributions from more than 100 thought leaders and academics, with many more participating in online stakeholder surveys.”

Hear more about the origins and goals of 50+20 in this TedxTalk delivered by Dr Muff. Visit the 50+20 website to read more about the initiative, its projects and its findings.

Post Your Thoughts