Berkeley MBA voices reached broad audiences this spring in the Strategic & Sustainable Business Solutions course, which examines the role of business in society.
Instead of simply sharing writing assignments with their professor, some students are opting to post their work as blogs on LinkedIn. The result has been both surprising and beneficial in a number of ways.
Sonya Hetrick, MBA 16, received more than 4,000 views, 700 likes, and 60 comments on her post, “Misunderstanding Milton Friedman.”
“At first, I was a little nervous to put myself out there, but by blogging, we were able to jump into the wider debate on the role of business in society,” says Sonya, a graduate of the Berkeley Full-time MBA Program and now a sector analyst, services, for the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. “I got a lot more comments than I ever expected, and it was interesting to hear people’s thoughts.”
Students in the class spend part of their time working directly with companies on sustainability and corporate social responsibility consulting projects, and part of their time examining these concepts on a more philosophical level, according to Robert Strand, the instructor for the course and Executive Director of the Haas School’s Center for Responsible Business.
The optional public blogs are written responses to questions posed in class such as, “What is the purpose of business?” or “What is your take on Michael Porter’s concept of creating shared value?”
“We want business students to become accustomed to and engaged in discussions and debates about business in society,” says Professor Strand, who also posts on some widely read blogs. “By bringing in some of the comments and criticisms posted on LinkedIn, it helps facilitate the dialogue in the classroom.
“Blogging to a wider audience also encourages students to think more deeply about the opinions they are forming,” he says, adding that Haas defining principles, such as Question the Status Quo and Confidence Without Attitude, are embodied in many of the posts.
James Cho posted several blogs for class, including “Rubber Bands and the Purpose of Business,” which received more than 1,700 views and close to 200 Likes. “Seeing people respond to what I have to say—whether they agree or challenge me—is pretty validating and makes the learning more real,” says James.
Both James and Sonya also see benefits to blogging that reach beyond the classroom. “I think the greater visibility has renewed some connections and helps people think of me,” Sonya says. “Recently, a recruiter reached out to me who had received a referral from someone I haven’t talked to in years, but who I believe saw my post.”
“It’s definitely brought visibility to my LinkedIn profile from people who wouldn’t have necessarily looked at it,” James says. “I started doing this for a class, but I’m now considering what this means for the future. I think there is value in me establishing a point of view or expertise in a particular area that is associated with my professional brand.”
Interested in conversations about corporate social responsibility and sustainable business? Check out the Center for Responsible Business.