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Administrative Issues Journal

Abstract

Professors bemoan the great difficulty students have understanding the complexity of their disciplines or functional specializations. Many non-traditional students have work and family commitments that limit the time needed to reflect professionally and to master these concepts. This disconnect has persisted despite decades of work developing more integrated, interdisciplinary curricula. One potential, partial solution is to simply start sooner and partner with liberal arts courses to introduce business students to complexity and paradox before they arrive at the business school. Grounding these concepts in the Classics embeds them in great stories of passion, betrayal, commitment, and emotion normally absent in business courses. Business textbooks and cases are usually sanitized, simplified, and quantified, stripping them of the chaos normally experienced in reality. These classical tales are captivating and compelling, making the business concepts used to analyze them more memorable and hopefully retained until encountered again in the business curriculum. The classics deal with real and raw emotions, with powerful prose more likely to capture and engage students on a very personal level. This article explores how economics can be used to analyze Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, how multi-stakeholder theory can be used to analyze Sophocles’ Antigone, and how business contract law can be used to analyze William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Liberal Arts programs will gain additional relevance, commanding further student respect; business schools will stand a better chance of meeting AACSB gold-standard, interdisciplinary learning outcomes when students are exposed to these concepts before arriving at the business school.

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