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First “oikos in Residence” event launches curriculum design project

Last month, oikos International hosted its first “oikos in Residence” event in Basel, Switzerland. The oikos in Residence is a new event format that is intended to accelerate the creation of materials related to curriculum change. 

The Residence event in Basel brought together a team of representatives from oikos chapters, oikos International, and Rethinking Economics to discuss the relevance of a re-envisioning of what is taught in typical business bachelors programs. 

The program for the event was based on Economy Studies, an upcoming book that lays out a new approach for economics programs. Economy Studies is a “create your own curriculum” guide that provides a framework for thinking about what kind of content should be included in various types of economics education. The book has three core sections, philosophy, organizing principles, and building blocks, which allow it to move from very broad ideas about the purpose of an economic education to the specific details of the kinds of topics and theories that are most important to teach. 

The task for the Residence event was to “translate” the structure of Economy Studies for business education to create a similar guide that can help the oikos community more systematically think about what they want business education at their university to look like. 

The first section, philosophy, explains what the overall goal of a business degree program should be. This category aims at moving away from a focus on profit and stakeholder equity and reformulates the mission of a business school program to have the goal of educating students on how to make environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable choices through organizations. 

The next section, organizing principles, includes the guiding values that underpin the way business should be taught. This includes, for example, making sure that education is closely linked to the real world and embedded within the societal sphere.  

The last category, the building blocks, puts meat on the bones by outlining the crucial elements that should be included in a business degree. Examples of possible business building blocks range from more concrete topics like Business Skills and Skills for Personal and Professional Development to bigger picture things like Global Challenge and Trends, Organizational Varieties, and Political Economic Systems. 

The four days of the Residence were spent discussing what these three structures should include and testing out different versions of definitions and elements. We now have a skeleton for what will become a “create your own curriculum” toolkit for business education. 

But actually creating this toolkit will still take a ton of work, so if you are interested in joining the project, contact J.Christopher (the oikos Curriculum Research Manager) to get involved! 

We had originally planned to hold a second oikos in Residence this June, but planning for this event is currently on hold due to the global Coronavirus pandemic.