The University of Virginia Darden School of Business has just announced several changes to its MBA program that will take effect beginning this fall, including a new, required experiential course as well as more opportunities for students to customize their learning experience.
Marc Lipson, associate dean for the MBA program, says “Each year, we enhance the program in small ways based on student feedback and innovations in business and higher education, but this past year has been a period of more substantial review and innovation.”
Incoming first-years will now take the required course,”Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship in Action” or IDEA, designed to bolster students’ ability to work on real-world, global projects of consequence, which have a high degree of ambiguity and uncertainty. Students will be organized in teams and tackle live field projects over seven weeks. The challenges will be sponsored by corporations, government agencies or nonprofit organizations.
“Our goal here is to make Darden students the best prepared in the world to make effective decisions when facing real-world ambiguity. Our world needs innovative solutions to open-ended problems, and we want to equip our students with the tools they need to innovate the future,” says Mike Lenox, associate dean for innovation programs and academic director of Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The second enhancement will further customize the Darden First Year experience. In August, Darden will launch the Darden Academy, a learning enrichment program that will offer a changing, weekly suite of opportunities that — though not required — will explore topics of interest to students, faculty and the broader Darden community.
It will include meaningful analyses of global current events, reflections on our purpose as leaders, opportunities to build skills that enhance the ability of all students to engage meaningfully in class conversations, and events that explore the links between classroom learning and business practice.
Darden students hail from all over the world; the Class of 2016 alone represents 36 countries. “Each student brings a unique background and experience,” says Peter Rodriguez, senior associate dean for degree programs. “Our goal is to meet each individual student where they are — to help them obtain in their First Year at Darden the skills and knowledge they want to deepen, in distinct areas.”
“At the end of the day, we are here to present opportunities that help our students realize their full potential as responsible, entrepreneurial and global leaders and learners,” says Rodriguez. “These two enhancements to the MBA experience were developed in collaboration with Darden students. We know that if we listen carefully to our students and co-create with them, we will deliver on our goal to continue delivering the most compelling graduate management education experience available today.”
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