New Courses Look to the Future


Cutting-edge leadership skills for the changing business landscape are the focal point of new courses offered this year, from an MBA seminar on how to tackle "wicked problems” to an undergrad course on the convergence of product branding and entertainment.

Other new offerings include the first undergraduate course on open innovation as well as an MBA course on how social technology can be used for good.

Undergraduate Courses

Undergraduates can choose from four new offerings this year.

Product Branding and Entertainment, taught by Lecturer Krystal Thomas, BS 94, filled up fast and has 32 students on the waiting list. Thomas, a television and digital media producer specializing in branded media, is bringing in a series of speakers from BET, Microsoft, Toyota, and Scripps Networks. Students will delve into niche markets for women, children, Latinos, and African Americans, and will be challenged to launch a product using branded entertainment.

"The goal is to create new millennium marketing managers," Thomas says.

In another first this fall, undergraduates will have the chance for an in-depth exploration of Open Innovation, the theory that firms benefit from using external ideas and sharing internal ideas, pioneered by Adjunct Professor Henry Chesbrough, executive director of the school’s Center for Open Innovation. The course will be taught by Solomon Darwin, the center’s associate director.

Undergrads also will have the chance to take Marketing Strategy with Assistant Professor Zsolt Katona, which in the past has been offered to only MBA students. The course draws from case studies, lectures, and a computer simulation for an in-depth look at strategic decision-making at the top management level.

In the spring, undergrads will be able to take a new Introduction to Financial Engineering course, which ties into the school’s Master’s in Financial Engineering Program. Ethan Namvar, MFE 05, an instructor at UC Irvine, is teaching the course.

Full-time MBA Courses

Haas is offering five new courses for full-time Berkeley MBA students this fall.

A close examination of a fruit or vegetable and an observation of ATM users are among the unconventional tasks that will be given to students in Problem Finding, Problem Solving, a one-unit seminar taught by Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman. The course, a prerequisite for experiential learning classes, will give students an appreciation for how to find and define problems, as well as the tools, techniques, and processes for approaching problems—especially “wicked problems,” which defy an easy solution, such as managing climate change and alleviating global poverty.

"At a deeper level, I hope students will each discover something about themselves and how they approach thinking about problems," Beckman says. "Their takeaways will have to do with changing the ways in which they approach and solve problems, particularly when they work with others."

Full-time Berkeley MBA students also will draw on their own experiences in Storytelling for Leadership with Lecturer Arina Isaacson. The course will ask students to harvest lessons from their own life experience to develop the fundamentals of powerful leadership storytelling.

Kellie McElhaney, co-faculty director of the Center for Responsible Business, will teach a new course called Power of Social Technology for Good (PoST4Good). Students will explore how companies are using social technology to build deeper connections with their employees and customers while engaging them for the greater good. The class will use case studies to develop a PoST4Good Guidebook, and then use the guidebook to outline social media strategy for a company’s corporate social responsibility activation[LC1] .

A new MBA series, Strategy by Design and Scenario Planning 1 & 2, will be offered jointly with the College of Engineering. The collaborative courses are taught by expert strategist and author Jay Ogilvy and Teddy Zmrhal, a Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and learning designer. They will lead students in a hands-on ride into the future of advanced strategy collaboration using analytical models. The course will count toward students' Management of Technology certificates.

Evening & Weekend MBA Program

The Evening & Weekend MBA Program is taking a new approach to electives this year, offering clusters of three thematically linked one-unit courses, to give students a coherent view of a discipline, such as finance.

For example, the new three-unit Topics in Marketing course is structured with three five-week modules. Lecturer Michele Madansky will teach marketing research, Lecturer Alan Olivo will teach customer behavior, and Lecturer Lynn Upshaw will lead the third module focusing on advertising. The format will give students a broad range of marketing topics within the same course.

In other new courses, Lecturer Frank Schultz will teach Advanced Leadership, helping students delve into the mindset, capabilities, and knowledge required to develop and innovate new business models and procedures. Another new elective, Corporate Financial Decisions, with visiting Associate Professor Raghavedra Rau, departs from traditional finance theory to look at what happens when firms go into financial distress. 

Senior Lecturer Paul Tiffany is offering the new two-unit Competitive Strategy: The Dynamic Capabilities Approach, which will examine the new strategies of adaptation required for firms to compete in the rapidly changing, global marketplace. The course is based on pioneering work by Haas Professor David Teece in which Teece creates a framework for understanding how firms develop and maintain competitive advantage in global markets.

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