Wheaton has established a new major in business and management that draws upon the breadth and depth of the college’s liberal arts curriculum and its commitment to experiential learning to prepare students as future organizational leaders.
The new major, which the college’s faculty approved on March 1, will also draw practical strength from affiliations with a number of business and nonprofit organizations that currently offer internships to Wheaton students. Learning through internship experiences, which has been integral to a Wheaton education for nearly three decades, will be a required part of the business and management program.
“This is a comprehensive and novel approach to the study of business and management that takes advantage of the intellectual strength and range of the liberal arts,” said Provost Linda Eisenmann, who served with seven faculty members on the ad hoc committee that designed the new major.
“The study of business may not be considered a traditional discipline within the liberal arts, but the design of this program fits Wheaton perfectly. We have a long history of innovation in academic programs, and our emphasis on cross-disciplinary study provides a foundation that will help us to offer an outstanding course of study in business.”
The new program addresses a growing area of interest among college-bound high school students. Nationally, nearly 20 percent of all bachelor’s degrees are awarded in business, finance, accounting, marketing or a related field. Many Wheaton students share these interests. A number of the college’s students have expressed the desire to study business and management in greater depth, and courses within an enhanced business minor created last year have been extremely popular.
The major also answers the nation’s need for a workforce of skilled and flexible learners who can adapt to a rapidly changing, technological and global society, said President Ronald A. Crutcher. “In survey after survey, business leaders across the country consistently say that they want to hire employees who possess the critical thinking, communication and creative problem-solving skills that liberal arts study emphasizes,” he said. “With this new major in business and management, we also can offer students some grounding in business to complement the essential skills that every Wheaton student develops.”
Faculty members involved in designing the program say that their goal is to help prepare a new generation of leaders.
“Our business major seeks to educate the next citizen leaders of tomorrow’s organizations,” said Francisco de Alba, a Hispanic studies professor who served on the faculty ad hoc committee that designed the program. “Our majors will be versed in the latest theories in management and leadership. They will have a solid command of the quantitative and data side of business, but they will also understand that they, and the organizations they lead, are part of a broader whole that is both local and global.”
Beyond foundation courses such as accounting, finance and marketing, the major draws upon existing courses in economics, statistics, philosophy and psychology to help students develop a holistic view of what it takes to lead an organization, whether it be an international corporation or a local nonprofit.
In addition, the major includes five areas of concentration from which students will choose an area of focus to deepen their insights and pursue individual interests more closely. The five concentrations are: equality, diversity and social responsibility; policy, nonprofits and the arts; globalization and development; society and the environment; and analytics and new media.
Finally, the program will require each student to participate in at least one internship experience as part of a capstone program in strategy and leadership during the senior year of study. The internship will connect to students’ concentrations and expand their understanding of that field.