Cambridge: Reaching across business-government divide, Harvard Business School will offer a new joint-degree programme with Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to prepare students for leadership roles in public, private and nonprofit sectors.
The three-year programme, approved by the Harvard Corp. will launch in the fall of 2008. Its aim is to give students a broader view of issues and challenges they will face in their working lives and tamp down mutual antagonism between business and government leaders.
It is also a recognition that pressing problems facing nations and economies in the future, like poverty and climate change, will require cooperation.
“Every interesting public problem in the world today crosses the boundary between business and government,” said David T. Ellwood, the Kennedy School dean.
The business and Kennedy schools have had a concurrent programme for more than 15 years, enabling students to attend classes and earn degrees from either school.
The new programme is more structured and will offer two joint degrees: master in business administration/master in public policy or master in business administration/master in public administration-international development. To pursue either degree, students must be accepted by both schools.
W. Carl Kester, deputy dean for academic affairs at Harvard Business School and cochairman of the new programme, said there is no target number for the programme. While it might admit fewer than 50 students in its first couple of years, number of joint-degree candidates could grow to 70 in the future, he said.
Joint-degree candidates will take the core curriculum from Kennedy School in their first year and core curriculum from business school in second year, with weekly seminars on issues that intersect political science and business.
In the second semester of their third year, students will be required to complete a “capstone exercise” where individuals or teams will research problems at the nexus of private and public sector policy for outside business, government, or nonprofit clients. Projects will be brokered by business and Kennedy school faculty members and result in ”deliverables” like briefing books and presentations.
While other universities like Stanford, Duke, and Northwestern offer some form of combined business-government education, “this was really a niche where we felt we could provide something that no one else was providing,” Stavins said.
Joint-degree programmes have become popular at business schools in recent years, but joint business-public policy programmes are still relatively rare. There is however a growing tendency in management education to broaden outside the category.