Skip to main content

Thoughts on the Integrated Curriculum (Part 1)

I was skeptical about whether the Yale MBA integrated curriculum was really all that different at the start of Fall 1. We have just started Fall 2 and the organizational perspectives courses so I'll withhold overall judgment on the curriculum for a later post. For now, I want to comment on a couple of aspects of the Yale approach that were pleasant surprises.1. Whether it helps us better see interconnections or not, the integrated curriculum is a beautifully coordinated thing. Our professors know what we are talking about in other classes and use and build upon those tools and examples. (This cannot happen if some students place out of classes or if the sequencing of the core is different for different students.) I found the classes to be more engaging as a result of the integration. It is amazing to be in a class and realize that what you studied earlier in the day is immediately applicable. It is also cool to see that our professors are not silo-ed into departments – they definitely talk about and coordinate their teaching between disciplines, which in the end is what I understand the integrated curriculum is about. 2. There is something to be said about the entire first year class going through the exact same experience and the “tightness” it fosters. I had an aha moment when I walked out of the Probability exam (the first one we had) and realized that all 230 of my classmates had spent the last three hours of their life in exactly the same way I had. You can talk to anyone in the class about what is going on in school. I remember studying in an undergraduate OB class that group cohesion is based on “time spent together”, “shared successes”, “common perceived threats”, and “smallness of size” (there was a fifth I can’t remember). We can check all of these with the Yale approach (yes, the exams are common perceived threats). 2a. To pull this off, the same faculty must teach each of the four cohorts. Lecturing (or moderating a discussion) for six hours a day twice a week is a significant undertaking. And the faculty do it with a smile and boundless energy*. Hats off! * A quick google search reveals that a person will burn about 122 calories an hour standing and talking. Which means that each of the core faculty members are burning over a Big Mac with cheese every day they have class. Interesting.