IN 1987, A SIX-YEAR-OLD SUDANESE BOY
named Deng Adut was conscripted into the People’s Liberation Army. He received military training and served as a soldier before he escaped and was smuggled out of the country. In 1998, he received asylum in Australia as a teenaged refugee. After working for a few years and learning English, he studied accounting before deciding to become a lawyer and enrolling at Western Sydney University. He is now a defense lawyer who helps other Sudanese refugees receive legal advice and support.
Adut’s story pretty convincingly answers the question: How much impact can education have on one person’s life? His journey is captured in a dramatic ad released by Western Sydney University last fall as part of the school’s “Unlimited” campaign, which tells the stories of students who have followed incredible paths. The videos can be seen at www. westernsydney.edu.au/unlimited/stories_of_unlimited.
Education can be a powerful force for societal change, and we use this issue of BizEd to consider the many ways universities in general—and business schools in particular—can make a deep and genuine impact on the world. Not just through the classes and degree programs that equip students for meaningful careers, but through the outreach efforts that transform communities and the scholarly research that encourages new ways of looking at old problems.
In “Transformations Through Education,” we look at ten Lives of Impact schools that are making an impact through wildly different initiatives that include collaborations with other universities, entrepreneurship programs designed for distressed communities, and free web-based applications with social implications. While each approach is unique, the goal in every case is to dramatically improve a classroom, a community, or a life. The schools profiled here are among those who submitted details of their programs to AACSB’s “Innovations That Inspire” initiative.
We explore a specific kind of impact in “Turning Academic Research Into Public Engagement.” Here, three scholars from Jönköping International Business School describe how a faculty blog enabled the school to foster public dialogue on critical issues and helped turn some of the school’s professors into thought leaders on major topics.
Finally, in “The Innovative, Connected, Nimble Business School of Tomorrow,” we take a look at what kind of impact business schools might have in the coming years—but only if they radically transform themselves to meet the evolving needs of society. In the article, AACSB’s vice president of knowledge development, Juliane Iannarelli, lays out the results of AACSB’s Visioning Initiative, which identifies five key roles business schools will need to play in the future if they want to stay relevant.
As money becomes tighter for educational institutions, and as critics become louder, universities must be certain they can offer excellent metrics on the value they provide. They must justify the very reason they exist. But when that raison d’être is, in fact, to save a life—or many lives—the justification becomes obvious. Universities exist to change individual students into the people who will transform the world.