The Highly Engaged B-School
- While academic disciplines provide a useful framework for learning, today’s problems require solutions that go beyond any single discipline.
- Through experiential learning and enterprising pedagogy, students not only develop the soft skills highly desired by employers but also understand the value of those skills on the job market.
- In seeking external partnerships, business school leaders should make it a priority to understand an organization’s challenges and identify ways the school can help address them.
Tim Vorley: [0:14] As a dean of a business school, I'm always going to say there's value for having a business school. The way that we think and the way that we operate means that we need to transcend the university. We need to work across the silos.
[0:23] Disciplines are disciplines for a reason, they create that framework and that framework is important. That framework was yesterday's game, and we need to be thinking about how we can play the game better tomorrow.
[0:34] We also need to think about the challenges that exist and how we can develop solutions with other partners whether that be other faculties around the university, working with computer science, working with those in climate change, and net zero sciences, or whether it's working with business partners, and other collaborators external to the university.
One of the really important things that [business schools] need to do is to help our students and our graduates understand the skills that they have that are beyond their discipline.
[0:52] The importance of business education is not just about the thematic areas that we cover. It's not just about logistics and supply chain. It's not about entrepreneurship or international business. Within that, there are so many skills that we need our graduates to develop if they're going to be work ready and if we're going to enhance their employability.
[1:08] One of the really important things that we need to do is to help our students and our graduates understand the skills that they have that are beyond their discipline. We would like to think of those as their soft skills. How do we get them to understand the value that they add? Because really whatever organization they go into, they're going to be using these skills day in and day out.
[1:27] At Oxford Brookes, we have an enterprising pedagogy, which is all about trying to think about how we get students to understand the way in which they apply these skills they're developing through their education to real world scenarios.
[1:37] We exercise that through experiential learning about bringing businesses into the classroom, into the business school, and getting the students to engage in real time with business challenges. By doing that, they not only get to apply the knowledge that they're developing but actually practice those skills that they're going to take into the real world.
We can embed enterprise in the work of other faculties, whether technology and design, or health and life science, and take the business of the business school institution wide.
[1:54] One of the things that really attracted me to the role at Oxford Brookes was not just being the dean of the business school, but the pro vice chancellor of the university. I have a responsibility for enterprise across the institution. Now, that is a real opportunity.
[2:06] It means that we can embed enterprise in the work of other faculties, whether technology and design, or health and life science, and take the business of the business school institution wide. That means putting in the effort and the time to build those relationships. That same philosophy and approach applies when we're thinking about the external partners.
[2:25] As a business school, I'm conscious that what we're not doing at Oxford Brookes is professing to have expertise that we can land with partners and stakeholders. It's very much about how we take our insight, how we work with them, and how we understand the problems and the challenges that those stakeholders and partners have, and how we can work with them to address that.
[2:44] You get out what you put in. For me, it's very much about investing that time with the partners regionally, working with different national organizations and bodies as well, to see how we can add value. It's trying to understand and make sense of where those opportunities are.
It's not just about the research, it's thinking about why and what research we need, as well as how we can embed some of those insights.
[3:00] We do a lot of work in the UK at Oxford Brookes Business School with Innovate UK, the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology. One of the key things that we're looking to try and do is to provide impactful insights through the research work that we do that gives them an evidence base that they can draw on.
[3:15] Another key thing that we try to do when we're working with policymakers is to help them ask better questions. It's not just about the research, it's thinking about why and what research we need, as well as how we can embed some of those insights and future policymaking.
[3:28] There's a huge opportunity out there. It exists at the research level. We can bring in our colleagues to do that.
[3:34] We're also beginning to see opportunities to bring students and other learners in, whether at the undergraduate side or at the graduate side, to develop projects working on real time policy challenges that we know that the students have the soft skills to develop and it's about applying that in particular contexts.