Education eMagazine Multidisciplinarity
Multidisciplinarity: a new discipline
Conversation with Vittorio Chiesa, President of MIP Graduate School of Business
We live in a world characterised by increasing interaction between disciplines, in which the professional profiles required by companies are changing. What role can a business school play in this framework?
The business school sector evolves with companies and the wider role they play in society. Companies have been required to operate with a “purpose”, i.e. to act not only for profit but for higher aims, so that they have a positive impact on the system in which they participate. Markets and consumers are showing a growing awareness of this issue and it has become essential for companies to have a relationship with their stakeholders.
Business schools must pay the same attention to students and companies. It is with this objective in mind that this year we obtained Bcorp (Benefit Corporation) certification by joining the international community of companies that stand out for their commitment to combine profit, the pursuit of well-being for society, inclusion, and attention to the environment.
The “purpose” must become a fundamental part in the development of people’s skills, so we can train managers capable of conceiving companies at the service of society.
Companies are asking us to make this cultural leap and we can help by teaching our students how a company can and should contribute positively to the system and country.
Our role is to prepare professionals to introduce strongly purpose oriented innovations that are financially and socially important.
Multidisciplinarity is functional to this objective as it imposes breadth of vision, flexibility, critical spirit, and intuition. Modern training does not only include restricted specialisation but interaction with other disciplines to create more complete professional profiles. Such people must be capable of systemic level analysis and guide companies by defining and drawing inspiration from a “purpose.”
Multidisciplinarity as a tool for breadth of vision and adaptability towards the world. How to integrate it into training?
Traditionally, the multidisciplinary approach was to provide different perspectives within a training programme, and offer different contributions within basic and specialist training. The synthesis between multidisciplinarity and specialist skills is left to the individual.
But it is possible to apply a radically different approach by integrating multidisciplinarity into a training programme, regardless of the subject. The modern challenge is to manage the complexity of this new approach. For example by using innovative teaching techniques which change the interaction between professor and student to make this type of training more effective.
At the moment it is not widely and easily disseminated, but several experiments are underway.
It requires training programme planning and preparation of professors, or rather groups of professors, working in teams. Multidisciplinary training needs more interaction, and to be delivered to small groups using teaching formats that actively involve students.
I believe that the future distinctive element between teaching programmes will be initiatives with specialist standardised content for large numbers, and more transversal content and innovative teaching methods, dedicated to more restricted groups.
Lately there is much talk of life-long education as a key to the continuous updating of skills. Is it a dynamic that intersects with multidisciplinarity?
Lifelong learning means remaining aligned with the environment development and this only rarely or partially happens through vertical insights. More often it means widening the professional profile.
What has been said before applies to lifelong learning too – it must be based on broader contents, and different from the past, using specific platforms capable of dealing with broad disciplinary ranges.
Purpose and multidisciplinarity. What are MIP’s plans for the future of these aspects?
All training programmes will include modules on “purpose,” the role of the company and managers as leaders and innovators.
Opening “Purpose Labs”, i.e. training initiatives dedicated to in-depth studying and analysing how a company can build its purpose, and support companies’ top management in this development.
Finally, innovating our service formats, so that the school is not just a place for training, but a place that encourages a person’s growth. This includes the assessment of skills, guidance, and professional development.