Boston College has a new interdisciplinary studies program—the first to cross borders between schools and their curricula at the University. This month, the Carroll School of Management and the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences jointly launched Managing for Social Impact and the Public Good, which focuses on issues of social responsibility and responds to a growing demand.
“There’s a huge and passionate enthusiasm among students for these kinds of courses,” said Carroll School Professor Mary Cronin (Information Systems), who co-directs the program with Kenneth Himes, O.F.M. (Theology). “This generation of students is so much more aware of social justice issues. They think about a company’s reputation for social responsibility when deciding what to buy and where to work.”
In the Carroll School, Managing for Social Impact and the Public Good serves as a co-concentration (which students take in addition to primary concentrations such as Finance or Accounting). Management students can also minor in the subject through Morrissey.
At Morrissey, it is an interdisciplinary minor—the 20th offered by Boston College. Social Impact joins programs ranging from Irish Studies and Islamic Civilization and Societies to Scientific Computation and Faith, Peace, and Justice. While all of the other minors of this kind have been housed entirely within Morrissey, this one is co-sponsored by the Carroll School, which spearheaded the initiative.
All students in the program are required to take a foundational course, Managing for Social Impact, designed and taught this semester by Cronin. The curriculum ends with a seminar offered in the spring of senior year, which will involve research and fieldwork as well as classroom learning. Carroll School faculty members are designing that as well.
In between these two required classes, there are a plethora of electives culled from a dozen departments of Morrissey. These include courses with titles such as Economics of Inequality (Economics), Rivers and the Environment (Earth and Environmental Sciences), Modern Catholic Social Teaching (Theology), Studies in Crime and Social Justice (Sociology), Persuasion in Politics (Political Science), and Boston: An Urban Analysis (Philosophy).
The idea for Managing for Social Impact and the Public Good originated two years ago in conversations involving Cronin and the Carrol School’s dean, Andy Boynton, as well as Richard Keeley, the School’s senior associate dean for undergraduate programs.
Initially, enrollment was limited to 50 students, nearly all of them juniors (with a little over half from the Carroll School). However, a number of sophomores have made it known that they are taking approved electives in anticipation of entering the program. Cronin says she expects to double enrollment next spring and increase it by another 50 in the fall semester of 2017.
Himes noted that Social Impact students are coming from “two different directions.” Generally speaking, those from Morrissey are interested in learning about the strategies and skills involved in running projects and organizations while management students want to dig deeply into subjects such as urban crime and social ethics, he points out.
But he adds that all of them want to make a difference in the world. That could mean eventually working for a nonprofit organization, or navigating issues such as diversity and sustainability for a corporation, or finding some other connection. “They might say, ‘I’m going to be an accountant but I’d like to get involved in a homeless shelter, and I’ll have a perspective and some skills in that direction,’” said Himes, who teaches Modern Catholic Social Teaching.
Students must apply for admission to the program. In addition to Himes and Cronin, a faculty coordinating committee includes Bridget Akinc (Marketing), Alan Kafka (Earth and Environmental Sciences), and Eve Spangler (Sociology).
In the Carroll School, the co-concentration is sponsored by the Information Systems, Marketing, and Business Law and Society Departments.