When a group of female Dartmouth College students noticed the lack of diversity in Tuck School of Business’ case studies, they decided to do something about it.
In 2020, they worked with faculty to perform an audit of Tuck’s core MBA and elective courses. Their findings revealed the lack of representation of female and other minority protagonists, so they set up a meeting with Dia Draper, Tuck’s assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion. With hopes of inspiring change, the group presented their research to Draper.
“My initial thought was that these young people were amazing,” Draper tells Poets&Quants. “What they presented to me was so professional. I admired their audacity to say how important and critical diversity is in education.”
Soon after, Draper had a conversation between faculty and alumni who were looking for opportunities to promote inclusive leadership. She told them about the students’ presentation, which piqued their interest. Next50 — a student-led organization and fellowship program — was then brought to life. “The 50 in Next50 not only refers to the past 50 years of Tuck being co-ed, but also the next 50 of Tuck having a diverse student body that isn’t just one-dimensional,” says Gissell Castellon, Next50 co-chair.
‘IT’S A NO-BRAINER THAT WE MOVE IN THIS DIRECTION’
With the goal of making 50% of business case study protagonists represent gender, racial, and nationality diversity by 2025, the initiative’s purpose is to help every student see themselves in the business leaders they study. “It’s hard to put ourselves in the shoes of the business leaders we study when we don’t share certain characteristics with them like gender or race,” says Lindsay Cox, another Next50 co-chair. “Increasing representation in case studies reinforces that everyone can be a business leader worth studying, admiring, and emulating—regardless of gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, and so on.”
Next50 has expanded considerably since this meeting in 2020. Now, the team has 12 fellows and 15 associates who work with Tuck faculty, administration, students, and alums to create a more inclusive MBA experience.
This year, the initiative has made major headway; it created a faculty advisory board, planned Tuck’s first-ever case writing competition in 2023, and ran a case writing workshop, which served as a pilot for the competition. Plus, the Next50 folks collaborated with faculty members Joseph Hall and Brian Tomlin to write their first original case study featuring SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell, which will be taught in the Core Operations class next year.
“We felt that giving students a sense of what’s involved in writing a case — and coming up with a new case with a female protagonist – was a win-win approach,” says Hall, Tuck’s senior associate dean for teaching and learning who engaged Next50 to help write the case.
“It just seems like a no-brainer that we need to move in this direction,” continues Hall. “We want to ensure that what we do in the classroom is representative of the students that are sitting in front of us.”
THE FIRST-EVER CASE WRITING COMPETITION
Castellon shares that there are a few outcomes the Next50 group wants to meet in the case writing competition, such as developing a repository of diverse protagonist ideas and examples that faculty can use in coursework. “In some instances, this includes writing ready-to-use cases with diverse protagonists that can be immediately slotted into the core curriculum,” she says.
The group also hopes that the case competition can expose students to inclusive case creation, and provide them and faculty with the opportunity to collaborate on case writing and coursework. “Overall, we want this case competition to create awareness around diversity in the academic curriculum,” adds the third Next50 co-chair, Tabitha Bennett.
But incorporating diversity in case studies isn’t as easy as switching out names, identifiers, or culturally appropriate markers, according to Draper; case studies are formulated around real protagonists, issues, and situations — and also have to meet certain learning objectives. “It’s not just about including diversity for diversity’s sake,” continues Draper. “It’s about normalizing certain things, such as that there are women who work in operations roles.”