Business schools bring the arts into classrooms

May 31, 2011

Gleaning business lessons from “The Godfather,” painting watercolors in class and using comic books as strategy textbooks—faculty are bringing the arts into business-school classrooms in an effort to push students to think creatively.

As B-schools have grown open in recent years to less traditional teaching methods and areas of study, the arts have gained a greater presence in many programs. Some schools are offering courses, concentrations and even specialized arts-management M.B.A.s for students planning careers in creative industries, a sector where strong business skills are needed more than ever as budgets grow tight. On other campuses, professors are using techniques from the visual arts, theater and music to help those on more conventional paths to approach business problems from a new perspective.

“Most of our students who come in have been taught in a very, very non-artistic way as they’ve come up through the business world, a very, very linear way,” says Mark Powell, an associate fellow at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, who has used Shakespeare’s plays, modern poetry, painting and dance to press senior executives in his leadership classes to think about their work differently. “If you really want to get people to become better leaders, better managers, you have to find ways of connecting to them personally.”

It’s encouraging to see the crossover between arts and business taking place in business schools. I can’t find the link to the original Wall Street Journal article referenced by the Creative Leadership Forum in the above quote but I’ll keep searching as I’d be interested in reading the full piece.

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