CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 23, 2007?As MBA programs seek ways to better link the classroom to the real world of business, a new MIT Sloan School of Management course has prompted some students to take the mission seriously. While some student teams flew off to New Zealand, China, and India, others stayed closer to home, working out ways to make their own Cambridge campus more "green."
The students were enrolled in "Practicing Management," a new MIT Sloan course created to give students a chance to actually apply the analytic skills and tools they´ve learned in courses. As part of the class, students participated in actual projects "to turn ideas into action and accomplish something even as they hone their abilities to get things done," said MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Anjali Sastry, who taught the course.
"MIT has always been about the world of thinking and analyzing, as well as taking action, whether it´s running an experiment or working at an internship or, in this case, doing a project," she said. "It´s been exciting for me to see what students can learn by taking action."
The course reflects a broader overhaul of the MIT Sloan curriculum. "We are taking seriously the need to better integrate academic theory with real-world application," said MIT Sloan Dean Richard Schmalensee. "Results of that process are not just this class, but other changes in the curriculum that will unfold next year and beyond."
Sastry´s class centered on student groups, each of which designed and worked on a project that would reach at least one round of implementation. For Matt Weiss and his team, the project became known informally as "the MIT Green Fund," an effort to support, financially or otherwise, a range of efforts to make the campus more environmentally friendly.
"The course taught us to prepare, act and reflect, and in our group, we tried to take that model and apply it," said Weiss. "The more we got into considering different approaches, the more we realized all the little things you have to figure out before you have an actionable plan."
Potential investments for the fund include educational outreach–such as getting students to turn lights off? to projects such as installing occupancy sensors in classrooms and retrofitting the campus with "green" light bulbs.
Even though Weiss is graduating this year and will go to work as a product marketing manager, he and another graduating member of his group plan to remain involved in the Green Fund as alumni.
"The idea of a Green Fund has been around MIT for years, but it has never come to fruition," said Weiss. "We want to build enough momentum that things will actually happen next year."