Four professors who are leading the way in prompting business school students to think about how firms can act in the face of growing economic inequality have been named winners of this year’s Aspen Faculty Pioneer Awards. The honorees, announced this week by the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, are:
- David Besanko, IBM Professor of Regulation and Competitive Practices at the Kellogg School of Management.
- Shawn Cole, John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration in the Finance Unit at the Harvard Business School.
- Dima Jamali, Kamal Shair Chair in Responsible Leadership and Professor at the Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut.
- Thomas Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations at the MIT Sloan School of Management; and Co-Director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research at MIT.
The Faculty Pioneer Awards were established in 1999 to celebrate educators who demonstrate leadership and risk-taking — and blaze a trail toward curriculum that deeply examines the relationships between capital markets, firms, and the public good.
The focus of this year’s call for nominations was to recognize and honor faculty who are teaching about inequality in their MBA classrooms, says Claire Preisser, who manages the Faculty Pioneer selection process as associate director of the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program.
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“When thinking about remedies to inequality, people naturally reach into the policy sphere for solutions,” Preisser explains. “Policy interventions are very important, but historically business has been a key actor in building and sustaining a middle class. We believe that today’s business students need to be prompted more often to think about how the everyday choices in firms can build shared prosperity—or work against it. The faculty members we honor this year are doing just that.”
The fact that some faculty at top-ranked MBA programs are addressing inequality in the classroom is especially encouraging, says Judith Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program.
“We are very encouraged that these classroom discussions are happening, and happening at top-ranked schools—and are eager to see more faculty follow suit,” Samuelson says. “This year’s Faculty Pioneers are bringing inequality out of the ethics classroom and into the classes that really matter in the MBA curriculum.”
The Aspen Institute Business & Society Program will recognize the Faculty Pioneer Award Winners at Business and Inequality: A Dialogue on Business and Business Education in New York on Thursday, October 15. The event will focus on how business schools can most effectively prepare students to lead companies in ways that produce a vibrant economy that works for all.