Still a couple steps from the end of the process, the group planning what the potential business major could look like has found a potential analogy: a footprint.
“We want to provide to the world a Knox-educated business leader, which is probably going to be something different from a University of Illinois-educated business leader,” Rothell C. Stephens Distinguished Service Chair in Mathematics Kevin Hastings said. “The perspectives will be different, the emphasis on the human aspects of business will be different, the ethical aspects of business and the impacts of business on society.”
The footprint idea comes from the interdisciplinary nature of the proposed major. The current Business and Management minor already includes a wide range of disciplines including philosophy and ethics classes, a statistical methods course, as well as more focused courses in a specific area of management.
One of the planning groups members Visiting Professor of Art Tim Stedman said that the major would provide additional opportunities to identify courses that could be applied to business but are not currently included in the minor.
Hastings, who is also chair of the Curriculum Committee, said that the group planned to keep the different tracks available to students, although the language around them might change.
In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature, a tentative title for the major is the ‘Integrative Business major.’ The tracks play into the biggest goal for the major: making it a Knox education.
“We all believe in a liberal arts education here and there’s no intention of designing a major that will conflict with that,” Professor of Economics Richard Stout said.
The integrated nature of the major is part of that. So is the planned ability to cater the major to the student’s specific career goals and life interests.
“We want there to be enough flexibility, students are going to have enough choice that they’re going to be able to own their business major the way they can own say their philosophy major, their art major,” Stout said.
The group was assembled from a larger meeting held last term. Along with Stout, Stedman and Hastings, Joseph E. and Judith B. Wagner Distinguished Professor in Business and Executive in Residence John Spittell who is current chair of the business and management program, Associate Professor of Philosophy Daniel Wack, Associate Professor of Computer Science Jaime Spacco and Interim Dean of the College and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Schneider are also in the group.
“There was a general consensus that we ought to try to form one, and so a smaller group was selected to carry the ball, to try to define what it was the goals of such a major would be and how it could be realized,” Hastings said.
The group still has some work to do before moving forward. Schneider described the work as clarifying the proposal and making sure that out of all the ideas they have had, they present the strongest and greatest ideas.
Schneider pointed out that the program being a minor means students always have another focus in their time at Knox. So the minor is by nature interdisciplinary, but the major will require some structural changes.
“The business and management minor, among the student population, it’s a large minor and the number of majors that are in the minor is significant, almost always over 20 different majors involved at any point in time in the minor, …” Spittell said. “So it is already integrative, it’s already seamless with a lot of majors.”
From here, the group plans to submit a proposal to the Curriculum Committee for review by the end of the academic year. Spittell said that they expect to have some input from the committee to incorporate in their proposal, which they will then modify.
The plan will then, with the Curriculum Committee endorsement, be submitted to the faculty as a whole to vote on, hopefully during Fall Term 2018. Students will be able to declare the major as soon as it is approved by the faculty.
“I’m optimistic that these conversations have clarified what it is we would want to do at Knox with a business major and then we’ll have a good vehicle for putting it in the hands of students to do it their own way,” Schneider said.