The Ideas Worth Teaching Awards are presented annually by Aspen’s Business & Society Program “to celebrate visionary faculty and the courses that tackle society’s largest, most embedded challenges of our time.” The +Impact Studio: Translation Research into Practice course, taught by Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, William Russell Kelly Professor of Management and faculty director of the +Impact Studio, was selected as one of nine exceptional business courses to win the 2020 award.
This year, Aspen recognized award-winning courses that “respond to the global crises of 2020 by innovating in form and content — and suggest a new way forward for business, as society calls to rebuild.”
“With each new headline, 2020 has underscored the need for fresh thinking on issues at the intersection of business and society,” said Business & Society advisor Claire Preisser. “Whether it’s the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis it triggered, or protests for racial justice, this year is an urgent call to action to reset business norms so that, in rebuilding our economy, we rebuild for better human – and not only financial – outcomes.”
In the +Impact Studio course this fall, Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA students and graduate students from across the University of Michigan are using insights from Ross and other U-M faculty to address challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and related economic landscape. The students are focusing on those that have been most under-resourced and vulnerable during the recession: women and minority-owned businesses and nonprofits.
“I feel immense gratitude to our Business+Impact team and my graduate students for helping make manifest the ideals of this course,” said Sanchez-Burks. “In designing the +Impact Studio course, I specifically looked at where our talented students could best leverage faculty insights to make a positive difference in the community, given the incredible challenges facing business and society this year. We are honored to have this course be recognized with the Aspen Institute’s 2020 Ideas Worth Teaching Award.”
The +Impact Studio course is one of the many facets of the Michigan Ross +Impact Studio, which opened last year. The studio, part of the Business+Impact initiative at Ross, is aimed at translating faculty research insights into real-world applications for the most pressing problems of our generation.
During the first iteration of the +Impact Studio course, students took on how to improve financial inclusion using fintech research by Michigan Ross finance professor Bob Dittmar, and on scaling a technology developed by Ross marketing professor Eric Schwartz on how to identify lead in Flint water pipes so that it can have a greater impact in Flint and beyond.
The 2020 Ideas Worth Teaching Award Winners were announced during a live, virtual event on Sept. 30. Andrew Hoffman, Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at Michigan Ross, was among the academic advisors who judged the highly competitive pool of nominations alongside Aspen Institute staff.
In 2018, two Ross courses received Ideas Worth Teaching Awards. Those courses were Social Intrapreneurship: Leading Social Innovation in Organizations, an MBA elective then taught by Jerry Davis and Chris White; and.Sustainable Business in Iceland, a 2017 Global Practicum course taught by Hoffman.