Part 2 of SOM’s new curriculum starts

After six weeks of classes, winter break and two-week-long international study trips, first-year MBA students returned to the Yale School of Management to tackle the second part of the new curriculum’s “Organizational Perspectives” component.

“Perspectives,” which occupies 12 weeks of the new first-year curriculum, focuses on the different internal and external constituencies of an organization, such as employees and customers. Students studied external constituencies during first semester and will now embark on the study of internal groups this semester through four new courses: “Employee,” “Operations Engine,” “Innovator” and “Sourcing and Managing Funds.”

School of Management Dean Joel Podolny, who co-teaches the “Employee” course, said that after one term, the entire school is adjusting well to the revamped curriculum, which was approved last April and implemented this fall.

“At this point in time both the students and faculty have both become more comfortable and adept in developing the connections across courses … [which are] so central to the curriculum,” he said.

Podolny added that while he anticipated that the implementation of the second section of Organizational Perspectives will be smooth, “feedback mechanisms” already in place will be essential to the success of the new curriculum.

Rather than teaching specific disciplines like finance or accounting, Organizational Perspectives focuses on the major factors that affect the performance of an organization. In the new “Sourcing and Managing Funds” class, professor Frank J. Fabozzi will ask students to assume the perspective of a Chief Financial Officer rather than teaching straight corporate finance.

“Fundamentally, when you teach a course like this, you’re preparing someone to be a leader in their company, and to do that you need to understand the macro issues,” Fabozzi said

Fabozzi said he spent much of the past summer soliciting the input of faculty from SOM and other disciplines to identify the critical topics in corporate finance, which were then incorporated into the course. In addition, he said, the course’s emphasis on practical applications rather than theory required that he enlist the advice of actual CFOs in designing the class curriculum.

In his “Operations Engine” course, professor Arthur Swersey said he will follow a similarly innovative route. Instead of teaching operations research, which deals with complex decision making, from an academic perspective, Swersey said he intends to teach students to think like managers who are making operations research decisions. Swersey said the course will hinge on two major questions: “What kind of decisions in the real world does the manager make, and given those decisions, what do students have to know?”

Like many of the new courses, Swersey’s is taught by two professors. He said his partner Judy Chevalier’s expertise in corporate strategy will play an integral role in broadening the perspective of the “Operations Engine” course.

While most students and faculty said it was too early in the semester to evaluate the spring courses, many said they felt both excitement and apprehension heading into the second half of Organizational Perspectives.

“I’m optimistic, but of course it’s going to be new material,” Ross Mellor SOM ’08 said.

Some said they anticipated that professors may have somewhat different academic expectations for these classes, especially in the “Sourcing and Managing Funds” course.

“We are going to be graded on creative ability, so that’s a new challenge,” Abby Goward SOM ’08 said.

After the completion of “Organizational Perspectives,” first-year students will spend six weeks in the final component of the new core curriculum, “Integrated Leadership Perspective,” which presents a series of case studies building on the previous 12 weeks.

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