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“Ignorance was bliss, now I'm not ignorant and that is far more difficult”: Transdisciplinary learning and reflexivity in responsible management education

Carole Parkes (Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
John Blewitt (Lifelong Learning Centre, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

Journal of Global Responsibility

ISSN: 2041-2568

Article publication date: 27 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The collapse of world economic systems brought the interconnectedness between business and global events sharply into focus. As Starkey points out: “leading business schools need to overcome their fascination with a particular form of finance and economics […] to broaden their intellectual horizons […] (and to) look at the lessons of history and other disciplines”. The purpose of this paper is to provide evidence from three years of research on the Aston MBA suggesting that an emphasis on developing capabilities within a far broader, connected and reflexive business curriculum is what business students and practitioners now recognise as an essential way forward for responsible management education.

Design/methodology/approach

This research paper examines the reflective accounts of 300 MBA students undertaking a transdisciplinary Business Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability core module.

Findings

As Klein argues, transdisciplinarity is simultaneously an attitude and a form of action. The student reflections provide powerful discourses of individual learning and report a range of outcomes from finding “the vocabulary or the confidence” to raise issues to acting as “change agents” in the workplace.

Originality/value

As responsibility and sustainability requires learners, researchers and educators to engage with real world complexity, uncertainty and risk, conventional disciplinary study, especially within business, often proves inadequate and partial. This paper demonstrates that creative and exploratory frames need to be developed to facilitate the development of more connected knowledge – informed by multiple stakeholders, able to contribute heterogeneous skills, perspectives and expertise.

Keywords

Citation

Parkes, C. and Blewitt, J. (2011), "“Ignorance was bliss, now I'm not ignorant and that is far more difficult”: Transdisciplinary learning and reflexivity in responsible management education", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 206-221. https://doi.org/10.1108/20412561111166058

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited