Early in the summer, a group of academics across Birmingham Business School and external experts came together to explore and identify ideas to develop a working Business Education Research and Scholarship (BERS) agenda. With the constant change in our education environment in the last few years, the main focus of our School on the Responsible Business Agenda, including the School pledge to the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion and more recently to the decolonisation of our School, many colleagues have been proactive in adapting and reflecting on their pedagogic practice in recent years. With full diaries and everyday tasks, we do not often get to consider or even share our positive contributions in developing a research agenda and scholarship around this.
First let us start with defining what we mean by BERS. Loosely put, it can be defined as activities that create new theoretical understandings of and/or practical approaches to the learning processes, experiences, and outcomes of business education for students and faculty. Yet, as with all social phenomena these can reach beyond the virtual boundaries of business schools and evolve with changes in business organisations and society. While curricula might be more difficult to change daily, BERS becomes a key vehicle to capture and integrate changes in the Business School and wider Higher Education context and disseminate them in a more dynamic manner. Ultimately, we hope, BERS can drive and support changes in society via changes in our education practices and/or through our publications and their impacts.
We see this as a mission, and it is this recognition that drive our efforts in the development of an exciting, inclusive and innovative BERS agenda reaching beyond the remits of “subject related teaching” and exploring ways to understand the impact of business education on organisations. For instance, one key aspect is developing ways to observe/measure the effects of our Responsible Business Agenda on existing future businesses. This is crucial as the future of our planet lies in the hands of every one of our students and staff, and more critically in the responsible management of businesses and organisations. Other avenues for BERS identified at the sandpit include: fostering entrepreneurial and value driven graduates, capturing the transformation effect of business education, reconciling our personal and professional self in the classroom, nurturing an empathetic and empowering culture in our teaching for both students and staff, using art and embodied learning in business education, promoting inclusive education and the decolonisation of our curriculum, increasing students’ preparedness through embracing new technological developments and experiential learning opportunities.
Our next step is to build on these topics to develop research activities and publications that can reach not only the academic community through academic journals and conferences, but also the wider public through social media and conventional news agents – TVs, newspapers, radios, podcasts... Thus, all these avenues for BERS will be discussed further and transformed into concrete projects and activities at a forthcoming BERS Unconference in the Autumn. An “unconference” is the perfect platform to initiate these projects, as it is participant-driven, allows space for creativity, generous encounters and collaboration and fosters equality, encouragement, sharing and development of outcomes.
If you are interested in taking part in these exciting developments at Birmingham Business School, please contact one of the authors. There will be opportunities for engagement for everyone.