Redesigning the Flagship Programme – Stockholm School of Economics (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 11.41.20Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) in Sweden recently submitted their first Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) report, which is filled with interesting and unique initiatives. In this two-part post, I feature two initiatives from SSE, the first on the multi-disciplinary Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets, and here on their work redesigning their flagship programme to embed sustainability challenges.

Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) recently received a grant of USD 4.7 million over 10 years, from the Global Challenges Foundation, to redesign their flagship Bachelor in Business and Economics programme to focus around the biggest sustainability challenges of our time. The plans are being prepared and the programme, which is starting in 2016, will focus on a number of global challenges throughout the three-year Bachelor’s degree. The redesign will see a full core course in both the first and second years around global challenges, looking at risks and how to confront them. Secondly, students will take a number of skills courses that will address content relevant to those courses. Thirdly, there will be a range of electives around global challenges offered in the third year. I recently spoke with Pär Mårtensson, Head of Pedagogy, and Anna Nyberg, BSc Programme Director at SSE, about this ambitious project.

What are some of the global challenges that will be integrated?

Four categories are focused on throughout the programme: knowing, doing, being, and expressing. Students will first learn about a broad range of different global challenges and the underlying factors in these challenges such as climate change, global pandemics, poverty, and so on. After learning about challenges (“knowing”), the next step will be more action-oriented, i.e. what can one do about these challenges (“doing”). Based on that, the focus will shift to the students’ own view and perspective on these questions and their personal leadership (“being”). Finally, during the fourth semester, the focus will be on “expressing,” where the students will work on different projects linked to global challenges. The programme will be concluded in the Conference Day on Global Challenges at the Stockholm School of Economics.

Will this be integrated into other programmes as well?

As a starting-point we will focus on our BSc-programme in Business & Economics where the new mandatory track on “Global Challenges in Context” will be introduced from August 2016. As there will be new courses developed for this programme and several teachers involved, we can assume that there will be some indirect effects also on other programmes, but at the moment there are no plans for introducing similar mandatory tracks in other programmes.

What have been some of the challenges/successes of redesigning the programme to include these issues?

We are still in the early phase of this process, but one challenge is to find suitable ways to integrate this theme within different subject areas. How this will be done will vary between courses and will be decided in dialogue with the different teachers involved. So far, we have been met with positive reactions from faculty members who have seen many different way of integrating this into their courses. We believe that one important factor for a successful redesign of the programme is that this will be a theme that is counted as important as other topics. That is, it will be mandatory, there will different forms of examination, and there will be grades, just like in all other courses. This is one way of signaling the importance of the topic.

What advice do you have for other schools thinking of doing something similar?

It is, of course, very important to have the full support and commitment from the management of the school. It is also important to make sure that the resources needed will be available. We are lucky to have received a generous grant from the Global Challenges Foundation. We also believe that it is important to have a core team of committed teachers who really want to do this. Finally, it is important to include the students at an early stage of the process, for example by inviting them to different workshops and by having regular meetings with student representatives.

What’s next?

The next step in the process of redesigning is to start developing the different courses in more detail. In parallel with this, we will also start running faculty development activities to help prepare teachers who will be working with this new and exciting initiative!

To read Stockholm School of Economics’ full two-part blog post click here.

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