New curriculum emphasizes teamwork, global thinking


August 05, 1991|By Adriane B. Miller | Adriane B. Miller,Special to The Sun

When the administration and faculty at the Johns Hopkins University decided to change their traditional master's of administrative science degree program, they wasted no time.

Indeed, it has taken only a year and a half from the time they first began talking of change to completely revise the curriculum. And this fall, Hopkins business school students will follow a whole new course on their way to a master's degree in science and business.

Judith Broida, associate dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Continuing Studies, said the new degree program is much different than the traditional MBA track. The focus is more on teams and less on structured theoretical knowledge.

"We changed the program after an extraordinary amount of research," Ms. Broida said. "We've now put in a program that is very contemporary and forward-thinking."

The new course work stresses such concepts as total quality management, ethics, working with teams, managing in a constricting environment, and international business and trade. Hopkins now has 12 courses in international business alone.

Ms. Broida said all students in the program learn a foundation of business skills, then go on to study more advanced topics. "It culminates in a Harvard-like course where they have to integrate it all together."

The business basics are still taught in Hopkins' new master's of science and business degree program: marketing, accounting, leadership and organizational behavior, information systems, finance, economics, human resources, plus quantitative and qualitative tools for decision making. But now most of these courses have an international flavor, a discussion of ethics and a component on technological growth.

In the accounting courses, for example, students work with foreign currencies. Technological growth is discussed in courses human resources and information systems management.

"We have a specific course in ethics but have also woven ethics into each area of study," Ms. Broida said.

She said existing business degree programs at most colleges were designed after a study done in 1958 on business education by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. And although Johns Hopkins didn't begin its master of administrative science program until 1971, Ms. Broida said, it still had its roots in the 1958 study.

"It's clear that businesses are operating in a different market now," she said. "It's global, there's more need for interpersonal and communication skills. Previous business programs were not preparing students for the needs of the new organization."

As a result, some corporate recruiters have stopped hunting MBA graduates, preferring instead to hire candidates with broad skills and undergraduate degrees in liberal arts. Business schools across the country are answering the charge by changing their curricula.

"Wharton, Columbia, UVA, Georgetown -- they're all doing some major curriculum overhauls," Ms. Broida said. "We're one of few that has it done," she added.

She said Hopkins began research and review of the new curriculum and began testing it in pilot programs this year. The curriculum was molded last summer.

To develop the new program, Ms. Broida said, Hopkins polled 150 faculty to give their opinions of the old program, and collected data from 700 students, 42 local employers, 200 alumni and various professional associations.

"We read every article on management and where it was going, and we looked at the success of students who'd completed our program," Ms. Broida added. "Our advisory groups were intimately involved, so when recommendations were put together they were part of the team to implement them.

"Future business organizations will be much flatter without middle management. People have to learn to work together better," said Ms. Broida.

"Working together and thinking globally are essentially what our new program is about."

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