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A short history (and future) of business education

Business schools have always been happy to be the knowledge production machine that runs alongside the world economy. As the economy shifted from agricultural to industrial to technological, business school curriculum eventually caught up and responded in kind, churning out the kind of manager the world needed.

But business schools--and colleges and universities in general--are forever changing. Two forces are being mixed together in the lab of humanity in the 21st century. The result will forever change the world.

1. The University of Everywhere. We have moved from a world of what Kevin Carey, author of The End of College called "information asymmetry" to a world of information symmetry. Information was democratized by the printed word and now by the shotgun marriage between Moore's law and the Internet. This union has already shaken print media, music, TV, film, publishing, and higher education may be next on the menu.

2. Overspending our Ecological Budget. Simultaneously we have moved from a world of resource abundance to resource scarcity. William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel of the Global Footprint Network lead the scientific understanding of humanity's voracious appetite for resources. The good news is we have become much cleaner, more healthy and more efficient in our use of resources but our overall consumption is breaking the bank.

Global Footprint Network image

Business schools are entering the "Sustainability" phase of their evolution. Some are quicker to the starting tape than others. Some are still putting their running shoes on and still others don't even know about the race. But you can see it everywhere in business and in business education. Systems thinking and long-term thinking will become the master skillsets and mindsets.

Making this kind of superior business education available to millions is the work ahead.

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