The UC Berkeley Haas School of Business announced the addition of three classes to its core Master of Business Administration, or MBA, curriculum focused on data analytics and diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI.
The courses are set to roll out this fall, according to Don Moore, Haas associate dean for academic affairs. Ross Levine, co-chair of the MBA core reform committee, added that the curriculum includes 14 courses for full-time students, but has not undergone a full refresh in 17 years.
The committee evaluated curriculum changes between 2019 and 2020, in addition to recommending that the curriculum be reviewed more frequently, according to Moore and committee co-chair Dana Carney.
“The dean’s office wanted to represent all the different areas from Haas,” Carney said. “It tried to assemble a team that was really interdisciplinary.”
The committee sourced data “from every possible source” in order to evaluate the current core curriculum and recommend revisions, Carney said. It interviewed nearly all faculty at Haas, as well as several hundred alumni, recruiters, diversity initiatives and current MBA students.
Carney added that the committee identified two major holes in the current curriculum across all constituencies: analytical skills, such as working with big data, and soft skills, such as managing conflict and leadership roles.
“Our job was made so easy for us because there was just pure consistency,” Carney said. “The decisions that were made were directly linked to data.”
However, the addition of a DEI course was not mentioned as frequently among students, staff or alumni. Carney explained that at the time, diversity initiatives at Haas were not as “fired up” as they are today, but there was still enough data to support the addition of the class.
Current MBA students were most supportive of more diverse materials in the classroom, especially in the cases used in discussions and class exercises, Carney said. Many of these cases use fictitious names, places and companies, so the committee made an appeal to diversify those details when possible.
One of the initiatives that worked with the committee was the Race Inclusion Initiative, according to Carney. However, initiative member Janki Patel alleged that her team had to consistently reach out to Haas to be included in conversations surrounding DEI. She added that many MBA students judge core classes harshly because they are required, but the DEI course is a step in the right direction.
“I understand it’s a delicate balance to design a class that is relevant and enjoyable for over 300 students with varying interests in DEI, some having grown up in the US and some never having been here before, but I do think it can be done,” Patel said in an email.