Business and STEM Curriculum Alliance

The University of California's Haas School of Business's Rich Lyons looks at the cross-disciplinary benefits of a collaboration between business curriculum and STEM education.


Dan LeClair: [00:00] I've been asked over the years, when people find out that I work with business schools, I often get asked about going to business schools. Sometimes it's framed as an either-or.

[00:25] Sometimes a young person, a 16-year-old, is thinking ahead a little bit, and thinking about, "Should I prepare for business school -- Dan, you know a lot about them -- or engineering school? Or should I really develop my technology expertise, perhaps even in an engineering school?"

[00:43] I understand at Haas and at the University of California-Berkeley, you guys have made this not an eitehr-or but an and.

Rich Lyons: [00:50] Well said. Sounds easier. The "and" really is an increasingly important part of that equation. Many universities have many great science fields and so called STEM fields and great business schools. How integrated are they really?

[01:06] People had historically thought about that as an "or." Or even if it wasn't a pure "or," it was a sequence. "I'm going to do engineering as an undergrad, and then I'm going to go to business school."

[01:15] We've just launched a brand new, dual degree undergraduate program at Berkeley, engineering plus business. If you do those things in sequence, as opposed to doing them concurrently as an undergrad, we feel like 18, 19, 20 year olds, if you're hard wiring both of those world views into their minds at that younger age, they won't think of it as two fields.

[01:35] They will really have a quite integrated view on how the science and technology connects to something like business model design and things along those lines that we're expert at in the business schools.

[01:46] When we first did this, first of all, we raised funds, as any business school would, around this new dual degree undergrad program. The dean of engineering and I would go meet with donors.

[01:56] When donors can look at the two of us in the eye directly and see how excited we are, before we've even pitched, they are predisposed to helping invest in this. Because they're thinking, "Spanning boundaries in modern universities, that's what I want to support."

[02:11] The other thing that I would point to, in terms of lessons for me, is as soon as something like this takes off, and we had some 2,500 applications for 30 spots this is just unbelievable demand you start to realize, what about a larger vision here?

[02:26] What about what we are calling a science in business vision? What about a pillar in our next capital campaign being science in business? What about five years from now if a third of our undergraduate business students are completing a second degree in chemistry, life science, or engineering?

[02:43] There's just a lot of running room for us to do what we know is right. Institutionally, there's so many forces the deans can see below them that are driving a more siloed approach. Part of our job as deans is to pull that stuff together.

Dan: [02:59] Thanks for that, Rich. I sense not only the enthusiasm, but I get a glimpse of the future, a redefined university, one that has different ways of organizing disciplines and ideas. Thanks for sharing that.

Rich: [03:15] Absolutely.

Filmed February 2017 on site at AACSB's Deans Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.