In Age Of Trump, B-Schools Brace For Upheaval

Ross Dean Scott DeRue: “We are educating our students at the intersection of business and technology”


Technology in the classroom has been on the mind of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business Dean Scott DeRue, as well. DeRue tells P&Q that he sees three trends emerging in the new year — and continuing for years to come — that will define the future of business education. “The first,” he says, “is related to how technology is disrupting traditional business and employment models. Technology is changing how people communicate, consume information, and buy products and services. Technology is also having fundamental and often negative effects on employment, most noticeably less jobs for the middle class. We are educating our students at the intersection of business and technology so that they are prepared to lead in this new world. I expect other top schools will be doing the same.

“The second trend is related to the impact of business in society. The United Nations has 17 sustainable development goals, ranging from eliminating poverty and hunger to accelerating economic and employment growth. Business is essential to achieving each of these goals. Business is the most powerful force for change in the world, and we must prepare our students to leverage businesses to create economic and social value for all people. We will see more companies fighting for leadership in this space.”

The third trend, DeRue says, is related to how the next generation of students learn. “Experiential education has always been a hallmark of business schools, especially at Michigan Ross where 25 years ago we created our famous multidisciplinary action project curriculum. But this next generation of student learns by doing more than we have ever seen in the past, and students want to learn while they are creating, constructing and collaborating.”

Practically speaking, DeRue says he expects more schools to introduce fully online degrees, with a focus on increasing the number of non-degree certificates offered online and identifying ways to use online education to enhance the in-person learning experience. “For example,” he says, “at Michigan Ross, we are now leveraging our online courses in finance, leadership, and negotiations to complement the experiential education opportunities that define the in-person, residential experience at Michigan Ross. Now when a student is engaged in an action-based learning experience in Asia or India, that student can also access online course materials on specific topics in ways that help accelerate the learning-by-doing model.

“It’s time we stop asking if online education will happen; it has happened. Now we must ask ourselves how best to leverage online education to achieve our mission of developing the next generation of business leaders who make a positive difference in the world.”