Business for a better world: A unique vision of what business education should be

Dean Beth Walker demonstrates Mosaic’s capabilities to alumni, donors, and other friends of the College of Business.

Since it was founded in 1966, the Colorado State University College of Business has led the way in teaching, technology, and, most importantly, a unique vision of what business education can and should be.

In this milestone year for CSU, the college continues to look ahead, innovate, and offer an exceptional education that gives students the skills they need to navigate a rapidly changing business landscape.

A mission to transform lives and improve the world

The college’s vision has always been that business could be used to make the world a better place. That early vision has evolved under the leadership of Dean Beth Walker into the college’s current mission of transforming lives through business education, research, and community engagement.

This Business for a Better World goal is key to helping solve some of the planet’s most intractable problems – and it resonates strongly with today’s students, who are pursuing lives and careers with purpose and want to learn at business schools that share their values. Walker and the college are committed to teaching those students the ways business can be used for good in any role, in any industry.

From creating a specialized MBA uniting purpose and profit to implementing customized technology to expand access to remote learners, the College of Business is creating a unique, purpose-filled business education experience for the next generation of business leaders.

Impact MBA: Uniting purpose and profit

Impact MBA Student Walking

Students in the Impact MBA program complete a practicum in the field or a fellowship with an existing organization to put their learning into practice.

As more and more people live and work with purpose, demand has grown for programs that will enable them to learn the skills they need to make a positive difference. The new Impact MBA does just that, teaching students to unite purpose and profit for the good of people, organizations, and communities around the globe.

The program emerged out of the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA, launched in 2006 as “the good MBA.”  In 2019, the college saw an increased need for both entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial approaches to organizational transformation. The enhanced Impact MBA offers two tracks: the social enterprise track, in which students start a new social or sustainable business, and the corporate sustainability track, in which students lead sustainable change within existing organizations. The tracks require students to complete a practicum or fellowship, respectively, so they can apply the skills they learn in the classroom to real-world challenges.

“The practicum or fellowship is a significant component of this MBA,” said Director Kat Ernst. “It’s what attracts a lot of students. They’re not just interested in learning the theory – they want to do the work.”

By giving students hands-on experience that lets them see firsthand how business can be a force for change, the college is building up future leaders who will make positive impacts in industries around the world.

Mosaic: Expanding access to education

Mosaic Class 1

With Mosaic, online and on-campus students participate equally in the classroom.

As part of its land-grant mission, CSU is committed to providing access to education to all students who wish to learn. The College of Business is equally committed to that mission and has launched a new technology, Mosaic, that expands access to top-quality business education to students who prefer or need to learn remotely to accommodate their professional and personal lives.

Mosaic enables online learners to attend and participate in classes in real time with their in-classroom peers. Students who join lectures via Mosaic can ask questions, participate in class discussions, and engage in group work– all from wherever they choose to learn around the state, country, and world.

This fall, the college will provide a third option to its top-ranked evening on-campus and lecture-capture online MBAs – Online MBA with Mosaic – so prospective students can “MBA their way.” The college will also use Mosaic for its new executive education opportunities for business leaders to create positive, impactful change on their teams, in their organizations, and beyond. These two-day short courses provide just-in-time skills to react quickly to changes in the business landscape and help learners navigate new situations.

Ethics education: Navigating business challenges

The team Ethical Rams 2.0, Callie Blasé, Sarah Greichen, Sarah Siayap and Lauren Gross, win first place in the OtterBox Ethical Challenge at Colorado State University, November 21, 2019.

The team Ethical Rams 2.0 won first place in the 2019 OtterBox Ethics Challenge. From left to right: Otter Products CEO Jim Parke; students Callie Blasé, Sarah Greichen, Sarah Siayap, and Lauren Gross; and Otter Products mentor Heather Williams.

Strong ethics are the foundation of any business education, and the college has partnered with the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program and Otter Products to bring ethics education into every classroom.

The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative helps the College of Business deliver principle-based education and reinforces the value of ethical behavior, both professionally and personally. The college’s program, led by Walker and Associate Dean Paul Mallette, builds a framework for decision making and shows students that ethical decisions and responsible business practices are central to achieving Business for a Better World.

The OtterBox Ethics Challenge, sponsored by Fort Collins-based Otter Products, takes an experiential approach by challenging teams of students to respond to a difficult business ethics scenario. Over two rounds of competition, students analyze the challenging situations and present their findings to a panel of experts. Finalist teams are partnered with mentors from Otter Products who provide valuable real-world perspectives on tackling ethical challenges.

By learning about and practicing ethical behavior, College of Business students learn to make principled decisions that make the world a better place.

Looking ahead

As the college looks ahead to its next 50 years, the only certain thing is change. With our focus on resiliency and adaptation, setting the standard for performance and imbuing our students with the principles they’ll need to make ethical decisions, our college is using business to transform lives and teach the next generation of leaders