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AACSB Quick-Take Survey on COVID-19: In Times of Crisis, Business Schools Support Their Communities

From offering webinars to assisting small businesses to advising governments, business schools are giving their time and expertise to help those in need.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been hearing anecdotally and seeing in the media ways business schools have been using their unique talents and expertise to support their communities throughout the current pandemic. In our second quick-take survey on COVID-19 and its impacts on AACSB business schools, we aimed to uncover the variety of ways that business schools are serving their communities and, in some cases, looking to “Transform the threat into opportunities,” as one respondent shared.

Across the 188 individuals who shared examples of their community engagement, some general themes appear. The majority of responses illustrate ways faculty are contributing their expertise to help communities navigate through new challenges, but how they do so varies across schools. Some offer webinars aimed at small businesses or specific sectors, while some work on COVID-19-specific task forces or committees, and others aid government agencies in decision- and policy-making.

Staff and faculty with significant experience in online educational delivery have been working closely with colleagues within their own institutions as well as across campus or at other institutions to provide guidance on how to successfully transition to a virtual environment. For instance, a school in Colombia is using its experience in online delivery to aid other institutions across the country in order to “prevent negative impact on national education.”

With small businesses facing much of the economic brunt at this time, several business schools pointed to ways they are supporting community businesses through pro bono consulting services, student projects, as well as helping companies navigate and pursue possible financial assistance and staff management options made available by local and national governments.

[W]e are preparing people for the new jobs that will be coming after the crisis.

Some respondents, cognizant of ongoing workforce uncertainty as working students, alumni, and local communities face layoffs, shared ways they are providing either free or discounted access to educational resources, materials, courses, and seminars to provide upskilling opportunities. One Latvian school stated, “We are developing short, virtual format courses (adopted to Mini-MBA format) for the people who are out of jobs with [a] focus [in] Advanced Digital, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence. Thus we are preparing people for the new jobs that will be coming after the crisis.”

Business school faculty, staff, students, and even alumni are also contributing their time to engage in volunteer and community support activities through fundraising campaigns as well as food and medical equipment donations to those in need.

Some individuals responded that they are waiting for more clarity on what to expect “post-COVID-19,” so they could set aside the needed resources for most effectively helping their communities. However, those who cannot wait are doing a commendable job of continuing to push forward business’s and business schools’ role as enablers of global prosperity.