New Curriculum Emphasizes Sustainability and Experiential Learning to Develop Entrepreneurial Leaders

Illustration of students and academic tools

A college’s curriculum is the heart of a student’s experience—the primary means of gaining the knowledge and skills that will not only land a job upon graduation, but also last a lifetime. To serve the changing needs of both students and society, Babson College is rolling out innovations to its undergraduate curriculum for Fall 2021.

The updated curriculum adds new emphasis on sustainability and hands-on learning as core components of educating the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.

“We’re developing students as lifelong learners,” Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Professor of Management Wendy Murphy said. “The skills and mindset that we cultivate here in a classroom are really meant to translate beyond that classroom.”

A Transdisciplinary Approach

Babson’s best-in-class curriculum will continue to feature a series of interconnected courses weaving through different academic disciplines. Students nurture their leadership, teamwork, and critical-thinking abilities as they learn business fundamentals, while staying grounded in the liberal arts and sciences.

Because real-world problems do not have disciplinary boundaries, Babson students learn to employ their entire education to overcome obstacles and engage in solutions—in college courses, through internships, and after graduation.

“Babson is a personalized experience, where the faculty all know their students’ names. They all know who you are, what you’re interested in, and how you contribute in the classroom,” Murphy said. “They try to bring that same lens in the classroom outside the classroom, so that students apply what they learn while they’re with us and when they leave us.”

By exploring issues from multiple perspectives, students begin to see the overlapping nature of both their courses and the challenges facing society. That perspective combined with internships, global opportunities, and real-world know-how prepares Babson graduates for success in any business setting, large or small, startup or established brand.

Students entering in Fall 2021 will experience the new curriculum for their entire time at Babson. It consists of three components: Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME)—Babson’s signature first-year experience for all students—and new core coursework in Socio-Ecological Systems and the Advanced Experiential requirement.

Babson's new curriculum pathway.

Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME)

Students will start their journey with the award-winning, first-year FME course, a mainstay of the Babson experience that teaches them entrepreneurial leadership from the new startup perspective, outside of an established business.

“What we’re really doing is using the vehicle of a startup to teach entrepreneurial leadership skills that make our students successful in whatever path they chart for themselves,” said Andrew Corbett, chair of the Entrepreneurship Division and The Paul T. Babson Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Babson College.

FME students communicate, lead, work in a team, manage obstacles, and see a plan through to completion. The FME Experience is the building block for what’s to come.

Socio-Ecological Systems

During their sophomore year, students then will dive into the science behind how people and nature work together—and why that matters.

“There was a shared interest among faculty and students to incorporate sustainability into the coursework in a more systematic way,” Murphy said. “Our faculty in the natural sciences and social sciences collaborated to design a new interdisciplinary core course called Socio-Ecological Systems to ensure that every Babson student learns systems thinking and the science of building a more sustainable world.”

By developing the problem-solving skills students need to be entrepreneurial leaders, and imagining sustainable solutions to real-world challenges, students better understand their place in the world and learn how to create lasting change.

Advanced Experiential

Students will culminate their Babson experience with a semester-long project with a company or nonprofit, gaining leadership experience from inside an organization.

“A vast majority of our students engage in experiential learning at many levels in the curriculum, but we wanted to ensure every student had an experience collaborating with an external partner,” Murphy said. “We added the Advanced Experiential requirement to designate those courses that facilitate students’ opportunities to work with our community partners, from startups to Fortune 500 companies.”

Through this flexible curriculum, students take courses that are relevant to their career goals and gain the insights and perspective needed to catch the attention of employers. They become even more career ready and in demand. And, they acquire the tools, skills, and mindset to succeed in today’s world by solving tomorrow’s problems.

As a result of Babson’s new curriculum, students will gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a global citizen in an interconnected world. They will have many opportunities for trial and error. And, they will tackle some of today’s and tomorrow’s most pressing issues—all while focusing on their professional path toward success, whether it’s becoming an entrepreneur or leading from within a big company or nonprofit.

“Babson offers an innovative curriculum where students can learn and grow with a focus on what they’re hoping to learn going forward,” Murphy said. “They take part in unique experiences that can help them craft their own story, develop their own path, and cultivate their growth as entrepreneurial leaders.”

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