In a class on electronic marketing, K-State students earning their master of business administration degree learn how a Web forum designed for children may be susceptible to pedophiles, and what U.S. and state gambling, drug and alcohol laws mean for safely selling items online.
In a graduate accounting class, the same students study current events to fully understand the effect that failure to disclose key financial information has on individual investors, the entire free market and society.
Such real-world business lessons, including a capstone course focusing on ethics and social responsibility, helped K-State's master of business administration program rank among the Global 100 best in the Aspen Institute's Beyond Grey Pinstripes biennial survey and alternative rankings.
The institute examines how well schools demonstrate leadership in integrating social, environmental and ethical issues into their master of business administration programs. The institute's Web site and publications help guide prospective students in choosing their master's of business education program.
Nearly 150 schools from around the world vied for a position in the top 100. K-State is the only university in Kansas to make the cut.
K-State's program ranked second in the Big 12 and sixth among all land grant universities. Overall, K-State ranked No. 77 in the world, ahead of schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tulane.
Moreover, in a separate ranking of graduate faculty research related to social, environmental and ethical issues in business, K-State ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 29 in the world.
"Business school rankings historically have not focused much on ethics," said Diane Swanson, who spearheaded this year's bid for rank, K-State's first attempt. "The Aspen Institute's ranking parallels the business world's increasing emphasis on the triple bottom line in which ethical and environmental outcomes are stressed along with the importance of profit."
Swanson is K-State's von Waaden business administration professor and leads K-State's business ethics education initiative. Joining her in the task force that bid for global ranking were Dann Fisher, associate professor of accounting, and Brian Niehoff, interim associate provost, on leave from his post as head of the department of management in the College of Business Administration.
"During the past 10 or so years, the College of Business's recruitment has resulted in a critical mass of faculty across all departments who have research and teaching interests in business ethics and ethics-related fields," Niehoff said. "This ranking reflects the quality of their work."
K-State's director of graduate programs in business, which includes the master of business administration program, is Jeff Katz, associate dean in the College of Business Administration and the Edgerley Family Chair in Business.
"We are delighted K-State has been recognized for the excellence of our MBA program," he said. "The rankings reflect the outstanding world-class faculty who teach our graduate students and the real-world emphasis of our program that attracts top graduate students from all over the world."
K-State's College of Business Administration is led by Yar M. Ebadi.
"During the last few years, the college has been working to develop strategic priority areas on which we could focus to attain national recognition," Ebadi said. "Business ethics was among those select priorities. I am very proud of what we have achieved in our MBA program and look forward to continuing to advance our national reputation in ethics and social responsibility."
Kirk Schulz, K-State's president, said, "We're incredibly proud that the Aspen Institute has recognized the quality of K-State's master's of business administration program and named it among the best in the world. This honor reflects not just on the master's program but also the longstanding quality of the College of Business Administration as a whole. After all, it is among an elite 10 percent of business schools and colleges in the nation to hold accreditation for all business and accounting programs by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business."
The rankings examined several factors, including how coursework is preparing students for the environmental, social and ethic complexities of modern day business. Swanson said ethical considerations have been a part of the coursework since K-State initiated a master of business administration program in the 1980s, long before these rankings began.
This emphasis continues today with courses like the core course she teaches on the management of legal, ethical and public policy issues, a capstone course that students take toward the end of their program.More information about K-State's ranking is available online at http://ow.ly/vN2x