Liberal Arts Enters the MBA Classroom at SPJIMR

August 18, 2017

“Left and right brain must work together,” celebrated author Amish Tripathi tells students

A new course in Management and Liberal Arts at SPJIMR has brought Indian and Western classics to the MBA classroom, opening up rich discussions and newer perspectives for students of management on subjects like creativity, quality, aesthetics and dialogue.

The course was introduced this year for the MBA-equivalent Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) and is better known on the SPJIMR campus by its acronym, MaLA.

Mid-way through the course, the noted author Amish Tripathi, who embodies success in Liberal Arts as well as management, was invited to interact with participants.  Tripathi, whose books have sold over four million copies, framed his journey from the portals of IIM Calcutta to the financial sector and later the world of book publishing to an inner balance between the heart and the mind.

Tripathi told the students: “To be truly successful, you need your left and right brain working together to find a balance. When your mind and heart work together in sync, you will be successful and happy. Let your heart see the dream, but let the brain do the planning to reach there,” he said.

The words captured in many ways the essence of the course, which is co-designed and developed by Makarand R. Paranjape, the noted author, poet and Professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and SPJIMR. The course is delivered by Prof. Paranjape with SPJIMR’s Pof. Vineeta Dwivedi as the instructor.

Said Prof. Paranjape: “Amish Tripathi is, in a sense the best mascot MaLA might have wished for because he embodies high and visible levels of success in both fields, Management and Liberal Arts, having journeyed from the former to the latter.”

The course is designed to widen the range of interests of students and to encourage an understanding of the social, political and cultural contexts that shape business and life. It offers a new lens through which participants can examine the opportunities and challenges they will face as they prepare to take up managerial roles. The course invites students to engage with texts and material that is usually not seen in a typical management programme.

The idea of introducing a Management and Liberal Arts course at SPJIMR emerged from an internal strategy retreat, which discussed the significance in today’s complex business environment of cross-disciplinary competence.  In addition, inputs from recruiters, alumni, and students also led to the introduction of MaLA.

“At SPJIMR, we find that though our PGDM students are a diverse group, most of them come from ‘STEM’ (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) academic backgrounds. Often, our students are unfamiliar in dealing with unstructured problems. Instead, they tend to use predominantly left-brained, rational approaches,” said Prof. Bindu Kulkarni, Associate Programme Head, PGDM.

“We wanted our students to develop and appreciate a whole brained approach – right-brained (creative, intuitive) and left brain (structured, rational) to the increasingly complex situations that they are likely to encounter in the real world,” she added.

SPJIMR Dean Dr. Ranjan Banerjee said the complex business environment today has less need for specialisations and more of graduates who can connect the dots between data and what it tells us about people. “We live in the midst of ambiguity. You have to accept ambiguity. There is no need to fight or resist it,” he said.

“The course on Liberal Arts helps participants connect the dots,” Dr. Banerjee added.

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