"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Management Education

A new model for management education will have to be forged for various reasons mainly to be able to educate professionals for success in an environment that is fast-paced, constantly changing, culturally diverse, technologically dependent, and media influenced. Traditional models are ineffective in educating, teaching skills and concepts for leadership within actual work environments.

The American Association of School Administrators offers the following new definitions for the 21st century:
1) Schools - Schools will go “from ‘buildings’ to nerve centers, with walls that are porous and transparent, connecting teachers, students and the community to the wealth of knowledge that exists in the world.”
2) Teacher - From primary role as a dispenser of information to orchestrator of learning and helping students turn information into knowledge, and knowledge into wisdom.
3) Learner - "In the past a learner was a young person who went to school, spent a specified amount of time in certain courses, received passing grades and graduated.

Most common traditional learning methods used in management education provide learning experiences that are inadequate. To make them satisfactory we will have to make changes such as to start using teaching methods that challenge all students, forces them to learn to work both independently and interdependently. Sometimes students are collaborating with people around the world in various projects therefore will have to learn to work dependently as well.
As for the curriculum, it should not be textbook based but thematic and project-based. Skills and content are not taught as an end in themselves, but students learn them through their research and application in their projects. Textbooks, if they have them, are just one of many resources.
Students should use the technological and multimedia tools that are available to them now to design and produce web sites, television shows, radio shows, mini-documentaries, oral histories, and even mini-films.
A management course should be created in a way for a student to be able to express their view about important issues. They should be given the opportunity to create projects using multimedia and deliver these products to real-world audiences. In this way students would realize that they may be able to make a difference in the world in the future. They learn what it is to be a contributing citizen, and carry these citizenship skills later in their lives.

[1] http://www.21stcenturyschools.com/What_is_21st_Century_Education.htm

Management Education: Less 'management' and more reality

The world is facing major transformations and revolutions in fields such as physics, geometry, psychology, computer science and politics so why shouldn’t management education adapt to recognize today’s new paradigms? I believe in management as a science that is highly influenced by other sciences thus the future of management education should be open to emerging concepts and technologies and not be circumscribed by traditionalism. As paradoxical as it sounds, management education will not be about management but instead, it will become more like a learning platform from which to look in all possible directions in order to achieve that broad understanding of how the world works and hence, be able to discover and extrapolate managerial skills. Certainly, it will be a dynamic platform that transforms motivated by world events, new paradigms and emerging concepts in other sciences and arts.

As an ideal management course, I anticipate most importantly a strong communication network. It might thus be necessary to reduce the number of students in classes to achieve those trust relationships that encourage learning. Although grades are very important for the student, these should not become the main motivation to work and contribute to the class. Instead, the motivation should lie within the learning itself. Consequently, topics should be appealing and useful to create motivation among the students. Real-world situations, study cases and controversial debates are always a source of motivation. Finally, classes should incorporate as much cross-disciplinary content as possible because the future of management is closely related to the interconnectedness among different fields.

The Future Management Education

What is wrong with our management education now? Asking this question would be the first step towards the solution towards a better educational structure. The most important element in education is the link between the students and course material: the instructor. Used widely amongst students RateMyProfessors.com can be referenced as a fairly subjective “scoring card” of professors by students themselves. At times these reviews can be a crucial factor for a student’s decision to enlist in a certain class, as from a student’s perspective, the quality of the professor determines the richness in educational experience and ultimately affects the overall outcomes. A professor “sweet and cute, but [who’s] lectures reiterate the textbook” will not give provide any interest or interaction to the willful learners. A “disorganized teacher, who does not care about his students” will not win over the hearts and minds the future students. Someone “frequently late to class, offer[ing] nothing of substance,” who “will mock you if you say something ‘unsmart’,” would not gain any trust and respect from the class. The core of education, the professor of the future, should bring inspiration to the minds with an optimistic spirituality, spark the interest and attention of the students with plenty of human interaction, and most of all, build respect and trust in the classroom as a whole by showing his passion and love towards the course content, the students and the world. An ideal professor with these attributes would be able to nurture students who will similarly develop passion towards their fields, who have love for their surrounding world, and who can feel the joy of learning. Management education of the future simply needs these ideal instructors to lead the students.

The 21st Century Organization: Designed from the Human Body

“It is shameful for man to rest in ignorance of the structure of his own body, especially when the knowledge of it mainly conduces to his welfare, and directs his application of his own powers.” Is what German humanist Philip Schwatzerd noted on human anatomy.
Indeed our human bodies are marvelously engineered complex systems, equipped with the essentials for prosperity. What if this could be applied to other systems? The following three categories look at basic elements of the human design and examine how they can provide ideas for the 21st century organization.

Stability, Mobility and Agility

The human arms and legs evolved to empower us with the ability of creation and mobility. Containing some of the “densest areas of nerve endings on the human body” permitting the “finest motor skills,” our hands are the “chief organs for physically manipulating the environment,” and have been the basis for the construction of our civilization (Wikipedia, 2007). Our four limbs are tuned with intuitive preciseness and make anything we can imagine. Our feet allow us to roam the land and waters.
Like so, the organization needs the production power of human hands, with the ability to change and effectively produce end results with precision and speed. Implementations such a higher power in the implantation of collective decisions can allow the organizational radical and flexible movement without the restraint of high-leveled bureaucracy. This will help increase the organizations reaction time in the high-speed society where legislations and consumer demands are at constant change. In addition to this, the need for strength of an organization to withstand dramatic social, political, and economic fluctuations is comparable to human being’s abilities of balance and stability.

Immunity, Prosperity and Sustainability

As the body’s self defense again foreign agents, our bodies have a highly developed immune system with a vast defense structure that “incorporates specificity, inducibility and adaptation” to protect the human body as a whole. These “collections of mechanisms within [the body] protects against infection by identifying and killing” harmful foreign organisms (Wikipedia, 2007).
The future organizations will need an elaborate and integrated network of its own defense mechanisms in the shape of intelligent management strategies and lawyers to fend off legal attacks, while securing information protection teams and monitoring in place for IT intrusions and hacking.
However rarely, autoimmunity and self attacks do occur within the human body. Organizations must be constantly aware that their strong system build for defense does not work to harm themselves in forms of corporate espionage and sabotage, as the organizations’ greatest strengths could become their crippling blow.
As for the human population in society, while our health systems have improved immensely throughout history, each generation is living longer and bringing more lives to the world. Our society has come to a point where we have realized that our population growth rate has raised to an unsustainable amount. Organizations of the 21st century must be designed around this dilemma between prosperity and sustainability. How fast should growth be to keep the organization running? How slow should growth be to maintain its long term sustainability? Which type of growth is more important? There comes a necessity to discover the balance between these two needs.

Intelligence, Interconnectivity and Integrity

As the most complex system of the human body, the brain controls virtually all functions of the human body including the more complex mental activities of learning, intelligent thinking and upholding moral standards. Equipped with this central processing unit, are also able to take in and analyze information gathered of the environment surrounding us with our sensory systems, of which eyesight and hearing can be named as two of the most important. Our visual system allows us to “assimilate information from the environment to help guide our actions,” facilitating the recognition of objects and obstacles while our auditory system provides the ability to receive environmental and communicational information. Linking all of these individual components of our entire complex is the vast interconnection of neurons, providing infrastructure for the massive volume of communication transmitted during all of these processes. It effectively uses a combination of the speed of electronic transmissions and chemical reactions. In the 21st century, organizations should be equipped with the flexibility of human brains for continuous learning and adaptation within the constantly changing global environment. An attentive management system promoting inter-human communication with well established member feedback system will allow for a high-level of organizational thinking in accumulation of intellectual capital and innovative solutions for maintaining holistic organizational growth.
Facial expressions of humans “convey the emotional state of the individual to observers,” creating method of non verbal communication and are “a primary means of conveying social information” (Givens, 1998) for us. To an organization, their face is their façade towards society, the government, and the world. As frequent as we purposely create false expressions to mask our emotions, many organizations of today conduct the same hiding of their true actions under faux façades of inspirational mottos, inducing wide public distrust in the organizational world. Maintaining honesty in their operations and stances towards the society is a key in the 21st century. A genuine “facial expression”, and to have a heart towards the mass will aid the reconstruction of social-organizational relations and trust.

Designed from these attributes of the human body, the fluid elements of stability, mobility, and agility, the internal systems of immunity, prosperity, and sustainability, and the management of intelligence, interconnectivity, and integrity will form the DNA of the 21st century organization.


Toga, Arthur W.; B.S., M.S., Ph.D. (2006). Brain (html). MSN Encarta. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.

Philips, Helen (2006). Instant Expert – The Human Brain. New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd. Retrieved on 2006-12-22.

Hand. (2007). In Wikipedia [Web]. Wikipedia Foundation. Retrieved August 1, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand

Immune System. (2007). In Wikipedia [Web]. Wikipedia Foundation. Retrieved August 1, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immune_system

Givens, D. B. (1998). Facial Expression. Retrieved August 1, 2007, Web site: http://members.aol.com/nonverbal3/facialx.htm

Management Education in the 21st Century

For the longest time, management has focused on how to run a business (aka the monetary aspects of running a business). Considering that in a business, management has the final word on important decisions, there are many important categories that current university curriculum fail to address... the ongoing "green revolution." Although many know about the environmental movement going on, still up to this day, those in management consider environmental aspects "annoying, uncorroborated, a hassle, and run by hippies who have no idea about business and real life." Although some strides have been made to change this pre-set attitude, environmental courses taught for most departments fail to link the given department to environmental issues. Instead, now we have managers (among other departments) who know how global warming works and possible solutions but in their heads all of these alternative options are merely wishful thinking with little chance of functioning in real life... a situation which is far from true.
I believe that in the 21st century, management education will contain at least one course which links the issues of management and the environment. This education would of course cover a brief basic on the issue but most importantly will demonstrate real life examples of companies which applied environmental principles to their business strategy/decision making and had some extraordinary results. A particular note should be on profit margin gains since it would drive the notion that environmental solutions doesn't always negatively affect a company, in fact it can benefit tremendously from it.
Some of the topics which I believe should be focused on are:
  1. Environmental Requirements Integrated in Product Development and Life Cycle: Special note should be made on the end-of-life section and new ideas on disposal methods (aka incorporating techniques to improve recyclability)
  2. Designing for the Environment: Examining the external and internal drivers for environmental awareness in business with focus on the section regarding manager's sense of responsibility. The strategy wheel should also be taught to provide examples of how improvements in each section of the wheel provided positive feedback to the company.
  3. Environmental Management Systems: Studying what ISO 14001 is, why it can be beneficial for a corporation, some basic understanding of its sections, and most importantly economical aspects with focus on its benefits. A possible topic could also include on how to begin the process of incorporating ISO 14001 in an industry/company which doesn't have the system in place.
  4. International Environmental Issues: To bring light about the issues facing international businesses and their impacts to humanity in developing nations. The importance of environmental ethics (do what you would do in your own country) and the consequences of not following them (special attention to case studies such as Bhopal).
  5. International Environmental Agreements and Protocols: A basic outline on treaties such as Clean Air/Water Act, Kyoto, etc.

In all these major points, emphasis should be focused on companies who have set the example on working with environmental issues, how they implemented them and their success. By providing these case studies we can teach future managers that business and environmental issues can be linked positively. Furthermore, we give them the chance to open their minds and that solutions can come from unlikely sources as opposed to the traditional forms of managing a business (aka, need to cut costs? fire some workers). I believe that teaching environmental issues in such a way will truly give them real life tools to apply in the future or at least open their minds for environmental issues and solutions.


Management Education is based on the changes in the society. Education related to managerial education should therefore go through change, be updated, continuously researched and developed so that at any point in time, we are not faced by any obsoleteness in its practicality. The traditional approach may not be adequate to gear the students up for facing real-time problems. Thus, preserving certain relevant and important elements from the traditional style of teaching, and giving it the dexterity to match todays expanded, more comprehensive and holistic teaching style could be rendered sufficient for making difficult situations somewhat ductile. For example, the traditional style of using textbooks and giving out homework is the most basic, and most essential component for any form of academic teaching. However, this must not be the only means, because as reality has it, student psychology has evolved over the years and yearns for more for excellence in academic pursuit. It is important to ensure that current affairs are incorporated into classroom teaching, for practical purposes. To excel in today's world, which is shrinking into networked global village, socialization is a paramount quality. Hence, group ethics should be inculcated into the students through activities which will require them to work as a team, deal with each others' mentality and so on. They should be made to co-op briefly with a company of interest to understand it's functioning. This may not necessarily be long term, and can come in the form of company conferences. Grading can be implemented in the quality and ideology of thought put into every assignment of different testing abilities. The idea of examinations is not totally redundant, as it may be a decently accurate measure of a student's capabilities. To motivate a student in the above-mentioned manner, the teacher himself/ herself has to have the drive, the vision, and the ambition to excel as a human being for making a difference in the world. He/she should understand the importance of change in today's society and is growing needs.
The teacher should be able to identify with the psychology of the students and stir a creative assembly, instilling the goodness of working thoughtfully and thought-provokingly and making them realize that academic excellence in any form not only benefits at an individual level, but at the global level. The teacher should be able to identify with the psychology of the students and stir a creative assembly, instilling the goodness of working thoughtfully and thought-provokingly and making them realize that academic excellence in any form not only benefits at an individual level, but at the global level.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Future of Management Education

In the fast-changing, interconnected and chaotic world we see today, it is important for general education to reflect the shifting paradigms. This is even more crucial in management education, for as we have seen, the structures of organizations often reflect the structure of society and common mentality. It is extremely difficult to change a system that has been set up for generations – and so it is no wonder that for present corporations and entire systems of government – be that businesses, education, or even nations - to change, it is essential to start teaching the new generations the new possible ways of applying knowledge. The focal point of the transformation of management education is to open up the eyes and minds of students to the endless possibilities in ways to organize, manage and teach. The new generation of management education courses has to broaden the perspective of students and give them real-life challenges in order to raise creative and innovative thinkers. To the new management education system, the sky is the limit. The reason for this revolution in education is the need to nurture the new kind of managers – those able to transform the chaos around them to benefit the world and those they have to take care of.

An ideal management class would not solely focus on the theoretical material that has been in circulation over the last decades, but instead teach the direct application of that knowledge – something rarely done in today’s courses. The facts from books bring no experience, and thus no innovation, to the students. Since the present world desperately needs the managers and leaders who are capable of thinking unconventionally and providing solutions that are original and ground-breaking, the courses have to reflect this need and cultivate the creative spirit inside the students. Only the courses that make students think, and teach them how to learn and adapt, not simply how to remember facts and formulas, will provide the humanity with the leaders who can bring the world into a better tomorrow.

Management Education in the 21st Century

In a century of uncertainty and dynamism, management education needs to continually evolve to keep up. The role of management can be seen as narrowing and widening itself at the same time. On the one hand, ever increasing workplace democracy is reducing the load on managers by dividing management functions among workers. But on the other hand, this new era of exponential change has introduced many new factors into management, such as changes in workplace demographics. To better prepare management students for the workplace, management education must go beyond just introducing new workplace trends. To achieve that, I think it is important to first understand the source of these trends. New trends start because our society goes through change. Therefore key to 21st century management is to understand people. This can be done by reducing faculty barriers between social science and management. Finally, business ethics need to be highlighted in management education. Apart from focusing on traditional business ethics topics such as fraud, management schools also need to emphasize on new topics such as sustainable development.

My ideal management class has no distinct boundaries across different management disciplines. I think students can relate their knowledge better when the barriers between courses are removed. For instance, operations management and marketing can be combined to give the benefit of aligning effective input/output management with marketing opportunities. Also I disagree with cramming hard facts about management, especially upon entering the faculty. I believe that starting students off with a concrete picture about the workplace can severely limit their creativity. It would be interesting to have a class where the objective is to design a business organization, and then slowly analyze the problems with the design model before finally applying methodologies from modern day organizations.

Management Education in the 21st Century

I believe that management education is capable of and is beginning to shift towards a more practical and applicable style of education. From my experience at McGill up until now, what I have seen is courses being taught directly out of the textbooks. In fact for the majority of the my management courses I have simply read the course syllabus to know what material I need to read and then studied from that without attending classes, and it has done me just fine. I envision a class where you leave the textbook behind and that class becomes more of a business atmosphere where you feel like you are learning but at the same time working at a job. I find that co-op training, which is offered at some universities, is very useful because you get a balance of theoretical and practical learning. My ideal course, would value case studies very highly while it would not include exams because they have no usefulness in real business practices.

The Future of Management Education in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, the study of management in academia should incorporate more multi-disciplinary and practical approaches rather than solely the traditional, theoretical curriculum of marketing, finance, operations, and accounting that we see today. The rise of globalization has resulted in an increased need for greater multi-cultural understanding with regards to political, social, and economic conditions around the world. As such, new managers in the 21st century will require not only traditional business knowledge, but also other forms that involve the integration of psychology, political science, languages, macroeconomics, law, and sociology. Whether working for a domestic firm or a multi-national, managers must have some basic understanding of these issues as they relate to business. It is my belief that management as a discipline has become too traditional, rigid, and limited in scope. Business schools are too preoccupied teaching theories to students that focus solely on bottom line principles, and are sending them out into the world with almost no practical experience or knowledge of other important disciplines that affect corporations and managers alike.

In order to remedy this problem, I would suggest two major changes to traditional management programs. To start off, I would include in the core courses of all management students a course on international affairs, consumer behaviour, business ethics, languages, world history, cross-cultural management, law and sociology, and economic integration/globalization. By including such courses, it will provide management students with a broader, more multi-disciplinary approach to understanding both consumer thinking, as well as the environment in which businesses operate. In addition to the inclusion of these multi-disciplinary courses, I would also make internships and practical experience a mandatory component of the program before graduation. This will provide students with a more practical understanding of the real-world application of business theories, as well as provide them with invaluable experience and important contacts in the business world.

In order to change management education for the better, professors should not only emphasize bottom line principles, but they should also teach students the power and importance of business as a tool for positive change. In my ideal management class, a professor will apply this approach. They will not limit their students to just the use of exams and textbooks as a means of learning, but will also use class discussion, cases, team projects, guest speakers, and field trips as a means of challenging and inspiring their students. My ideal class would not only focus on one discipline, but will include other disciplines as well and relate these to one another so as to show their interconnectedness and importance to managers. In my view, the ideal management class will focus less on profits, and more on ethics, global issues, and effective business practices. It will discard exams and textbooks as the sole method of learning, and will put more emphasis on personal growth, leadership, and practical business skills rather than the importance of the grade. Ask many business students when they graduate and most will say the same thing – that they forgot most of what they were taught in the classroom, textbooks, and exams. In order to make the study of management more effective, and more memorable, it is my belief that it is now the time to move away from limited traditional methods to a more practical, multi-disciplinary approach.

David Bolinsky: Fantastic voyage inside a cell

This is about creativity, truth, and beauty in sciences. Amazing video that we have watched in class.

Management Education

Being able to generate profit for an organization is no longer enough to effectively manage a team in the 21st Century. Workers are gaining more power, new world values are putting stress on the importance of self-development, and people are beginning to act as global citizens—all of which make the role of management more complex and all-inclusive. Some of the emerging managerial skills required in the 21s Century are:
Possessing good character traits, such as loyalty, honestly, competence, integrity, and courage
Being able to develop a sense of community and team-spirit
Taking responsibility for stakeholders concerns
Being able to generate trust from your workers, and
Knowing the needs of your workers and keeping your team healthy and happy.

The shift in management practice means that we must reorganize the way management education is taught. Education is becoming more universal, and the demand for higher education has never been greater. To handle the fast faced, chaotic 21stCentury, we must prepare our graduates from a young age. Developing creative skills early in a person’s education is essential for future generations to be innovative scholars that can move the world forward. We must teach the youth that focusing on the positive, while still acknowledging and learning from the negative will make for a more peaceful and united global community. Self-confidence is a major character trait that needs to be developed because when people are happy with themselves, they thrive as an individual; they are not afraid to share their innovative and creative ideas, they delve into fields that they enjoy and excel at them, and they are self visionaries ambitious and driven to contribute to the world.

In the later years of high school and early years of post-secondary, there is slowly becoming less and less room for the traditional textbook-exam format of learning. Management education needs to bring learning outside of the classroom by encouraging students to delve into the world, visiting banks, businesses, and business professionals to developing strong communication skills, self-confidence, and a sound network for after graduation. Professors need to engage in their students and offer different teaching methods that will keep students from not coming to class. These small details develop responsible, punctual, enthusiastic, hard-working manager on his(her) way to lead and manage a team.

In brief, management education must be redesigned for the 21st Century. We must foster creativity and self-confidence at a young age because the world is shifting into a new paradigm consisting of self-fulfillment, community, and global wellbeing. As well, positive thinking and positive living will enrich the lives and performance of future graduates so instead of giving a child a time-out for bad behavior, we must not punish but come up with new consequences that will allow for the child to learn from the mistake, but not humiliating the child or generating a negative relationship. In the later years, we must incorporate outside learning and networking, new and innovative teaching methods, and eliminating a major chunk of traditional textbook-exam methods.

My ideal Management course would be a small class where I would be able to participate in collective learning with my classmates and professor, build a strong relationship with my professor and establish lifelong friendships and networks, and get personal attention with projects and guidance for my future. I would like a class involving many group projects focused on individual learning, allowing flexibility and mistakes. I would like a class where we were brought different places, to see and experience different things and meet influential global leaders. There are limitless possibilities to have a class like this; I have taken part in one this summer. It is a matter of commitment, passion, and enthusiasm.

Management Education

My vision of management in both theory and practise for the 21st century is to study the emergence of the new types of capital, and the rearrangement of markets. We also need to see whether the social capital will be characterised by the global consolidation of multicultural organizations and if the theories of management of the 20th century will carry over to the 21st century. I think we need to come up with new executive strategies that foster and maintain innovation and entrepreneurship. I think the focus should be more on social, economic and technological forces that have been developed in the 21st century. We should also view the responsibilities that the managers of the 21st century hold and their relationship with their employees and families to get a positive environment in the work force. A few tips I would offer to the professors are the following:

  • Prioritizes on student relationships and leadership skills, and implements change.
  • Ensures both physical and intellectual access to the latest breakthroughs, articles, and books.
  • Understands students and their social, emotional, and intellectual needs.
  • Is committed to the program excellence and lifelong learning.

Below I have come up with a rough sketch on the main topics that we should focus on for future management courses.

Management for the 21st Century


Critical Thinking
Control Procedures


Training Development
Healthy Environment
Cross Cultural Skills


Worldwide Presence
Innovation and Reliability
International Growth
Well-known Brands


In the 21st century, management education should become a broader field then simply consisting of the classical accounting, finance and marketing courses. Management students should acquire basic knowledge about the world around them, not simply business skills. Therefore arts and political classes should be added to the curriculum for students to be aware of the problems in the 21st century since current students will become tomorrow’s leaders. They need to be given the necessary tools to succeed, but first they need to be aware of the problems and they need to be motivated into finding a solution. Also, in the final year, it should be compulsory for students to attend brainstorming sessions. Groups of about twenty students would meet on a weekly basis throughout the semester and discuss given global issues. Students would just throw in thoughts and ideas. Putting the students’ minds together could lead to great findings while being a valuable experience for the students.

In an ideal management course, the theory is covered through real life examples. There can be some pure theory teaching, but this must be very brief since students should be able to read it themselves out of textbooks. Class time should be dedicated to real applications of theory, analysis of situations and problem solving since learning is always greater through experience. Classes should be formed in such a way as to encourage more discussion between students and professors since professors are specialist of their fields. Students can greatly benefit from their expertise. Finally, I think class size should be reduced to build a stronger, more intimate teacher-student relationship.

The Future of Management Education

Business schools are more and more popular within the youth generation because everyone is related to business directly or indirectly. For instance, in 2006, 10,000 students applied at McGill’s Desautel faculty of management and 600 were chosen for the Bachelor of Commerce. Because the demands for B schools are enormously high, the faculties can only afford a limited number of places and there is also a lack to provide an effective and efficient education.

The Problems are:
§ The classes are filled up with many students and the teachers are not able to give enough time for everyone of them.
§ The majority of the courses rely on theoretical aspects and less on real life application.
§ There is often a lack of relationship between the student and the professor.
§ Most of the teachers don’t make students think out of the box because they give the typical paper-homework.
§ Too often, the students don’t interact enough between each other, which could help them create a network for their future.

The Solutions and the ideal course:
I believe that one of the major solution is to reduce the number of students per class. The ideal number would be between 30 and 50 students by course. This will enhance the interaction between students and professors.
Moreover, each management course needs to have a blog and use it. It will give the opportunity for the students to communicate and brainstorm new ideas about any subjects.

I believe that students need to use the power of technology to get in touch with other students outside the country. For example, professor Fahri Farakas showed us how to get in touch with undergrads from Turkey. Through the usage of Skype, two students are able to discuss about international news, come up with new ideas, learn from each other, and understand each others culture and lifestyle. This process will favour both parties because they will master cross-cultural skills and as future managers of the 21st century it is certainly a critical competence to have.

The Future of Management Education

Having been in business school for three years already, I have not learnt a thing about real-life management. Most of my classes are focused on exams and have not encouraged critical thinking or research. In addition, they fail to deliver the true meaning of business: practice. In traditional fields, such as the humanities and sciences, university studies seek gaining knowledge and examine theories for this purpose. Nevertheless, in study fields such as management, it is important to forget theory and focus on experience. For this reason, I suggest (and hope) that, in the next few years, management instructors decide to pursue a more practical and “how-to” approach.

My ideal management class would have minimal theoretical content as possible and not only deliver expertise through cases, but also through field projects. For instance, teach us how to conduct a real market research for a real company in market research class, or a complete financial analysis for a real company in a corporate finance course, and, most importantly, a business plan for a real company in strategy class. In other words, the perfect management course would involve an active class discussion on crucial topics and diverse business cases, in addition to completing a substantial project in a relevant field, always examining real companies. It is essential to exclude exams… they are pretty much useless in business formation!

Management Education: Moving Forward

Management education of today is a changing discipline, and it is important that it continues on this trend into the twenty-first century. As the world is changing, becoming more concerned with and involved in human rights and the environment, it is important that management education also follows the same trends. It is very important that classes are concerned with the well being of people, not only the companies. People, like business and management, are also evolving and becoming more concerned with others, so there is now a need for classes based on humanity and how to treat all employees right in a business. From the managers all the way to the wageworkers, it is important that every employee is understood and treated fairly according to a universally understood law of humanity, which should be taught in management courses in university. Business classes in the future should also be based more on ethics than they are currently. In addition, professors cannot assume that everyone knows and lives by ethics. Those who do not practice business ethics are graduating and becoming managers in influential companies, yet if business ethics and morals were taught within every course of management, it would be more likely that these managers would become better managers. Although many assume that ethics are taught at home, it is important that this is also taught in higher-level education in order to stress its importance for a changing world. With future managers with an education based more in ethics and people, we will see a better trend in the twenty-first century, when both the companies and the employees thrive.

The ideal management course incorporates business ethics, concern for people, and business practices in order to create balanced and well taught managers of the future. Within the class, it is important that the high value of every person is stressed, so that the future managers think no less of those building a product than of those who are running a project or company. Every person should be treated well in the future of management, and this trend can only begin through education. Business ethics are of growing importance in the twenty-first century, and the perfect management course stresses this movement in order to create more informed managers of the future. Each concept learned should be applied to ethics. In addition to concentration on business ethics and human worth, it is important, of course, that strong business practices are taught. If the course is taught properly, balancing the three factors, well-informed and powerful managers will be able to take the reigns in the twenty-first century.

Management in the 21st century

Although I am still very new to management education, I believe it will greatly change in the 21st century. Up until now, we have been though on traditional values and we have learned from stories dating as far as the 50's ( I am thinking of some old movies we watched in a previous management class). It has been a great tool to learn the fundamentals and remove the complexity to teach us the basic theories of management, but in 21st this will simply not work. The situation and overall picture of how we manage an organization is changing so much that new expertise and different qualities are necessary for our future leaders, managers and employees. One that we are all already aware of is information. In the future, a class like Management Information System might be more like Managing Information, where people not only learn that: "yes there is technology around us", but rather that: "Yes, there is technology, and we must learn how to use it to find the information we need right now. Put differently, the emphasis will not be on how we can access information, but how we are able to manage the most relevant information at the right moment, and how to differentiate it from the incredible mass of information that is currently being produced. Also, I think we should be educated on a broader sense, to see that what we are doing today, and what we will do tomorrow, might have greater impacts around us. I also think that should not only focus on teaching traditional skills, but rather on how to apply new skills such flexibility and adaptability that will be both necessary towards dealing with people and technology.

I believe that a management class should be very small. It could be 15 or 20 people maximum. I am thinking of a language class, where learning a language in a group of more than 20 people becomes very difficult. I think that in the ideal management class, students can participate freely without doing it for the 10% or 20% mark of participation. I think that we should not emphasize on grades, but this might also depend on the subject of the class. Of course, in a class like Finance, we need to focus on grades and marks to differentiate students, but for more general classes, we should focus on driving an interaction between students to students, and between students to professor. We should build more relationships with the people in the class, through games or group projects. I also think that the idea of a class as a workshop, or more as a training session could be very useful in some cases. For instance, a class focusing on global issues could be taught in a country where these problems happen. Learning by seeing the really can definitely have strong impacts. Also, I think we should have classes that focuses on helping other countries. For example, it could be as simple as classes where students from rich countries go to 3rd world countries to help students on subjects like mathematics, English, or biology. This already exists, but they are seen as extreme cases.

The Future of Management Education

How should Management Education Change? Which Direction should it take?

In a nutshell, the education of management should take a more global and ethical approach. Let me explain. First, in today’s universities, the student body is very international. At the same time, in the business world, companies are going abroad and building international supply chains while trading agreements are formed and international political relationships are fostered between various countries. Teachers should discuss these events in class and take advantage of the diversity in the class room to listen to the various points of views and foster cross-cultural communication and understanding.

Furthermore, it is of utmost importance that today’s students reflect on ethical issues and dilemmas that are present in companies and the business world in general. Opening up debates and discussions in an early stage of management education will better prepare the students for the dilemmas that they will be confronted to once on the job market. Given them the tools and the skills to deal with such issues is an essential part of management education.

My Ideal Undergraduate Management Course…

An ideal undergraduate management course would include networking between the students and the teacher, business case analysis and discussions, guest speakers from various companies, and discussions of what is going on in the news in management and companies, locally, nationally and internationally. Drawing parallels with course theory and the ‘real world’ would increase students’ understanding of the course material they are being taught. Furthermore, I believe that students would benefit from less course manuals and more from articles from management journals relating to the topics being covered. Group projects and presentations would be encouraged, more than mid-terms and final exams. In the end, professors would serve as the initiator and moderator of class discussions. They would teach students the tools to develop independent learning and the skills to apply what is learned to their future jobs.

Management as a Whole: Puzzles, Bridges and Prosperity.

Out of the management classes that I've taken, I've been able to see two distinct methods of teaching with each having their own goal. I've taken one class where the students were taught to calculate ratios, analyze a company's financial standing and adjust journal entries. The goal of that class was to be able to see which companies turned a profit and which ones made it seem like they did (this also taught students indirectly how to falsify our numbers for our selves). This course was completely number oriented, even the qualitative component asked that students write about the numbers. In this current class students are learning about new managerial concepts, discussing about benefits, other than profit, that a corporation can generate, as well as amplify the element of human inter-relations while doing so. The goal of the class is to discover new principles, better management and better ourselves. Although learning how to reach these two goals is essential to management students, they are still quite detached from one another. What is lacking is an overlapping element that bridges all the goals we must accomplish during our undergraduate studies. It is not to say that the element is not already there, but that it is perhaps neglected or diminished. 21st century management education should go towards a state where there is no gap between subjects. Where some subjects integrate into one another and others are tightly related to each other; this would enable us to see the bigger picture. By doing so we might be able to stop perceiving the goal of management education as the pursuit of money, but see it as the pursuit of prosperity. Money of course fits into that category but the goal is much broader now and encompasses more people. Money and people would not be two separate concepts anymore, they would fit together. The 21st century management education system should move towards a more global stance. Bridge the gaps in management education to seek not only numbers and money but prosperity for not one but all.

The ideal management course would integrate all of the components necessary to reach the goal of global prosperity. This class is of course giving us some of the tools to do so but it is very hard how to fully accomplish the task based on only one class; it is not to say that this class is not ideal just because it cannot accomplish everything. I believe that we already have ideal management classes and we have to strive for the ideal management program. This program would incorporate elements from every course and empower us to create change. The program would be inspiring and promote new ideas and methods through understanding. It would be composed of ideal courses which give us the tools for change. Each course would provide us with the component essential for change whether it pertain to finance, accounting, etc. The ideal courses would be pieces to our global jigsaw puzzle.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Management Education in the 21st Century

Many of the students taking management are taking it with only one goal in mind: to make money. This ideology is not one which seems to be contradicted in many classes. All management classes are taught to give students the tools to make good and therefore, profitable decisions. Now please do not get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to get ahead in life and live a luxurious life. Having the knowledge and the capability to run a multi-million company is not something that everyone possess, it truly is a combination of knowledge, talent and luck. The issue is that not enough is being taught about, or focused on, the impact of the decisions managers have made, and are making. Not many professors stop to talk about the exploitation of workers or child labor. Not many will take the time to shed light on the horrible work conditions that some workers live with for a reward of less than $1 a day. Within the management programs, there needs to be a greater focus on the consequences of the actions we, as students, will be taking later in life. Many students who are in management want to acquire in knowledge, and therefore the power to make a positive difference in the world. However, there will always be some students who are solely interested in the money-making aspect of business and this vision is not being discouraged but rather encouraged.

My ideal management class would be one that would train students in the field of their choice. The subject matter would be a type of internship. In this course, all students would take a career placement test and based on those results, the students would spend a few weeks at their top 3 “ideal” jobs. This would be interesting since many students have talents or qualifications which they do not know they posses. By being trained and trying different types of professions, students could broaden their horizon and get a better sense of what it is they would like to do with their lives. This ideal class is definitely “out there”, but students would greatly benefit from this type of hands-on education.


Photos from our Quiz Show and Knowledge Competition among Teams!

Creative Mindworks

Love n’ Money

We have constantly been told that communication, patience and understanding are what make a strong and lasting relationship. Relationships are based on trust, honesty and respect. Although relationships are essential to a healthy and happy life, they are not always easy to make and/or maintain. First, one party must take the initiative to communicate with the other. Second, trust must be established and reinforced, without being rushed. Lastly, those in the relationship should look to the future and work together towards a common goal.

In all levels of society, one can find relationships among people. When taking the time to find these relationships, they can be found in the form of friendships, romantic relationships, parent-to-child relationships, etc., but how many people will think of worker-to-administrator relationships? This type of liaison is not one which is immediately, or typically, considered a “social relationship”. Why is this? What are the benefits of such an affiliation and how should managers, and workers alike, work to achieve this relationship? The answer is simple, the same steps are to be followed as when engaging in any other type of relationship.

Although young and possibly naïve, I believe that workplace relationships are key in improving the overall quality of a company. Many North American companies work with a top-down approach. Instead of heading to the root of the problem, the executive makes decisions affecting their workforce without necessarily meeting or speaking with those being affected. These types of decisions tend to do more harm than good due to the fact those making the decisions are not the ones who will need to apply them.

It is undeniable that businesses are driven by money and profit. Many business people have become so determined to live the great life that they seem to have forgotten who it is that makes them the money. I will not deny that leadership, wit, conviction and strong character are essential for a person with executive power. No company could be run without proper leadership. However, no company could function without the blue collar workers that are often forgotten.

My solution is simple. I strongly believe that the best way to learn is by actually doing the task and then teaching it to others. Here is my suggestion: At least twice a year, all members of the executive should spend a day in every “blue collar” position (such as production, packaging, shipping etc.). By doing so, the executive will have a better idea of what their workers are doing and how to ameliorate and facilitate the job(s) at hand.

In another light, the workers will be able to teach their employers which would boost morale and hopefully, open up the lines of communication between employer and employee. Working alongside an employee may or may not alter the point of view of management, but it is definitely a start.

The basis of all types of relationships (communication, patience and cooperation) are just as essential in the workplace as they are outside of the workplace. Employers need to take a step in establishing a line of communication from one end of the enterprise to the other.

On paper, the idea of greater communication in the workforce seems ideal and possibly flawless. However, like many concepts in business, this concept will only be valuable if properly applied. As in all relationships, different steps must be taken to arrive at a certain goal.

First off, members of the executive must take the initiative to communicate with the workers. This can be achieved by holding social events that include all members of the corporation. This can include company lunches where interaction is facilitated and set in a relaxed environment. A good leader is one which is approachable and respectful of the ideas of others. By increasing lines of communication, employees would be more likely to speak up and let employers know what can be done to improve production.

Secondly, the establishment of trust between employer and employee is crucial to a successful company. When workers feel they can turn to their employers, they are more willing to work for them. I believe that the best way for employers to gain the trust of their employees is to show that they are actually interested and respect the work done by the workers. By spending time working side by side with the workers, both parties will have time to interact and hopefully, establish trust.

Lastly, by working together, the company will be able to work towards a common goal. By opening the lines of communication, employees will have a better knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the enterprise and will therefore know what to focus on and improve. If workers are kept in the dark about the goings-on of the enterprise, they will not feel connected to their work and therefore, may lack motivation. However, if workers feel that their contribution and work is indispensable to the company, they may become more dedicated to their work.

Like all other types of relationships, this is not something that can be accomplished overnight. Trust between employer and employee is not something that is easily built; it takes time and dedication. By working together, I believe that employers as well and employees will benefit.

Management Education in the 21st Century

Dear colleagues,
Please post your two paragraphs (putting the label: "Management Education in the 21st Century") until Friday 24.00 answering the following two questions:
1) How should management education change and be like in the 21st century?
2) Describe your ideal management course (design, evaluation, methods, skill development, relationships with students etc.)
Your answers (as they reflect students' perspective) will be critical for management professors who want to create positive change in management education.

Corporation and Management to Architecture and Keystone

When you see an article comparing corporation and architecture, do you see the connection? Are you thinking that a corporation is “built up,” literally talking about the material construction, just like an architectural structure is? Or are you thinking about the non-material “build up” of a corporation from many tangible and intangible resources? Or perhaps you are thinking about something else. Indeed, there are many connections between corporation and architecture. Let’s further explore different aspects of this comparison.

Firstly, let’s look at the definitions (in italic):
Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings and structures. When you see a definition that says “Management is the art and science of designing businesses and organizations,” does this make sense? Can you make an argument out of it?

A wider definition of architecture often includes the design of the total built environment: from the macro-level of town planning, urban design, and landscape architecture to the micro-level of construction details and furniture. Similarly, management includes the design of the total built environment: from the macro-level of community planning, policy design, organization architecture to the micro-level of human and material resources.

Architectural design involves the manipulation of mass, space, volume, texture, light, shadow, materials, program, and other elements in order to achieve an end which is aesthetic as well as functional. How does it relate to corporation and management? Corporation and management involves the manipulation of people, their intelligence and capability, policies, natural resources, environment, and other elements in order to achieve an end which is functional as well as profitable.

Architectural works are perceived as cultural and political symbols and works of art. Historical civilizations are often known primarily through their architectural achievements.
Corporation is perceived as cultural and political symbols and works of art. Past and most present business leaders are often known primarily through their corporate achievements. Does this make sense?
Such buildings as the pyramids of Egypt and the Roman Colosseum are cultural symbols, and are an important link in public consciousness. Cities, regions and cultures continue to identify themselves with and are known by their architectural monuments. Successful corporations and multinational businesses are not only cultural symbols but also in the 21st century, cross-cultural symbols, and are with no questions an important link in public consciousness. People identify with the products of many corporations. Again, does this make sense? Do you see the connection?

Perhaps a more specific analogy of management and keystone will provide further insights for the readers. Let me first provide you with the definition and application of a keystone:
A keystone is the architectural piece at the crown of an arch… locking the other pieces, a.k.a. voussoirs, into position. It could be said as the most important piece in the construction of an arch. By its name, a keystone is the key to an arch construction. It acts as an agent to balance the two compressive forces from the two sides of an arch.

Upon more research, however, a keystone can be split vertically into two parts and no shift will result. Why? This is because the forces of the two sides of the keystone are horizontally balanced. By symmetry, the compressive forces from the two sides should exert equal pressure, thus reaching equilibrium. To point out here, equilibrium must be achieved before the keystone can be split into two, or else the whole structure will collapse.

How does this relate or apply to management? Management can be said to be the keystone in a corporate structure, and the characteristics of a keystone also apply. If a horizontal balance of forces is achieved, this symbolizes that management does not have to be one centralized agent, but many cooperating parts that remain close contact and work together, just as two keystones are side by side supporting each other, to balance out the compressing forces or stresses.

What are some compressing forces that the management needs to balance? Human and material resources? Financial performance and environmental impact? Domestic and international contribution? There are more, and good management team will be able to identify the different forces or stresses in their corporation. These compressing forces could be threatening if not well managed to reach the stage of equilibrium.

Old keystones can decay due to vibration, a condition known as bald arch, and ultimately results in the collapse of the structure. Out-of-date management can lose value due to fast global, technological, and economic developments, and ultimately leads to the collapse of a corporation, perhaps even a new term called bald management?

Architecture does not refer only to the construction of a structure or a system but it also underlies the importance of maintaining balance, and the relationship among all elements or components such as materials, environment, limitations, and human capability. What are the building blocks of a corporation? The issue here is how, for corporations, to reach equilibrium so that the compressing forces are horizontal; moreover, how can management be an agent that balances the forces.

In an article in Arab Construction World Nov 2005 / Vol XXII - Issue 7, in which Hakan Sandbirg points out that the value of the keystone is that it reminds us that "until the structure is complete, we have to keep thinking" - an important point [for both architect and manager.]

the future of management education

To make a better world in the 21st century, professors in management education should incorporate the newest concepts and get students involved in global issues. Corporations play a big role in our society and management students are the future leaders. Developing truly effective leaders is a task that all management professors have.

The ideal undergraduate course for me would be one that allows students to interact and learn from each other. The professor would teach in a style that is nontraditional, bringing excitement and fun into the classroom. The course would not only be taught with textbooks and classnotes but also in other innovative ways. The professor would use various methods to stimulate the student's interest in the course.

Industrial Ecology: Intertwining Industrial Interactions

Close your eyes and picture a bird’s eye view of the industrial revolution. Most likely you will see crowded buildings with towering stack columns spewing clouds of white smoke. You will also most likely view this old world in monotonous colors of black, white and various shades of grey. Sadly, this is not a figment of our imaginations; one must merely look at the renditions of this past to realize that this turn-mark period in humanity was actually grim and sickly. During this era, humanity completely alienated themselves from the natural environment. Humans were superior and we are able to manipulate our environment to suit our needs. After all, the world was limitless and ours to do as we wished. However, we soon learned about the dire consequences of our selfish behavior not only to the natural environment, but for the human environment itself. The toxicity of that environment was so terrible that a quote from the industrial revolution in London was: “Hell must be much like London, a smoky and populous city.” Sadly our ignorance just lead us further into the hole until the facts simply were to large to safely sweep under the carpet such as the 4000 deaths which occurred in London in 1952 due to a fog which was mixed with coal smoke. Sadly, change came not from the industrial sector, but from government when industries showed complete disregard for human health.

When the average person is asked about pollution, the first three answers that come to mind are: air, water, and soil. However, the modern definition of pollution is any pollutant which can be chemical or biological substance, thermal (heat), noise, light, and energy among others that can have a dire effect on the natural and human environment. To begin, I will refresh some of the most environmentally impacting types of pollution which can also directly affect human health. Air pollution, one of the first problems to be determined is in essence the release of chemicals like sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulates into the atmosphere. The consequences of air pollution are well noted, CFC’s lead to the thinning of the ozone layer and contributed to an increase in skin cancer and SO2 lead to acid rain which deteriorated buildings, destroyed forests and acidified lakes. Water pollution is also one of the first types of health hazards humans associated with their impact on the environment. Like air pollution, it involves dumping chemicals into bodies of water. Their mechanisms vary extensively such as seemingly innocuous materials like milk which become toxic when bacteria degrade them in the water and utilize all the oxygen in the system thus leading to death of many fish and wildlife in the given area. Others are far more simple such as heavy metals which are extremely toxic to aquatic wildlife and to human health as well. Soil contamination is also fairly well known. In essence chemicals such as oil which contaminate a site can destroy or affect the local ecosystem. Thermal pollution is also a relatively new area, which occurs when coolant water from an energy plant is immediately injected into a natural body of water at a higher temperature. This in turn causes depletion of oxygen in the area which affects sensitive aquatic organisms such as juvenile fish. Luckily, government has stepped up to the plate to place laws to protect human health and the natural environment.

In Canada, this is the duty of Environment Canada which has specific regulations such as Freshwater Water Regulations, and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Despite these advances, what is the role of industry in this modern age which is so dependent on environmental awareness? Do we continue moving on creating new chemicals and products without determining the consequences of our actions? Do we simply accept the current environmental standards and just disregard any possibility of self-improvement without direction from the government? Sadly, many industries fall in this later category for they believe that it is the governments’ job to “give them guidelines” for their only concern is to make money. What many industries fail to recognize is that they too are an important part of the whole system. This idea, the interaction between the industrial system and the natural system coined by Robert Frosch and Nicolas Gallopoulos is called industrial ecology.

In the natural world, the waste of one organism is the resource of another organism. This is essentially a cyclical cycle where no waste goes unused. Sadly, current industrial activities are increasingly confrontational with ecological systems. Industrial ecology follows that an ideal industrial system is one which mimics this natural balance, where the wastes of one company is the resources of another. This ideal situation in turn results in the elimination of wastes leaving the industrial ecosystem. Although this may seem nearly impossible, there are many current tools that industries can apply to reach this goal such as cleaner production methods and design for the environment. Industrial ecology also offers important goals, organizing principles and strategies to reform industry. Although many see this as a complete change which may harm industry, industrial ecology first believes that change begins with industry optimization. One reduces energy and raw materials to produce a given good. Any businessman will understand that the fewer materials you require to make a good, the cost for the good decreases which in turn can lead to an increase in profit. The second part of industrial ecology however lies beyond the physical walls of a given company. It requires the coordination and integration of companies to form closed looped systems where the wastes of one company is the resources of another. However, is this feasible? One must merely look at Kalundborg, an industrial town in Denmark. This unique industrial symbiosis comprises of 6 companies: Asnaes Power Station, Statoil, Novo Nordisk, Gyproc, the Municipality of Kalundborg, and Bioteknisk Joren.[i] This system was first developed to minimize energy waste and to comply with the strict environmental regulations set by the government of Denmark. By each company utilizing specific wastes from another company, this unique symbiosis managed to drastically reduce wastes: 19000 tons/year of oil, 1200000 tons/year of water, and 130000 tons/year of CO2 among others.[ii] The success of this system was that waste materials were recycled, consumption of raw materials was reduced, and environmental pollutants were reduced. The Kalundborg symbiosis case shows that although successful, certain conditions must be satisfied. For example, all contracts were agreed on a bilateral basis. This experience shows that successful industrial symbiosis requires a good fit among firms and that there should be trust and a "short mental distance" among the participants. This in turn translates to openness between contracts. However, there are some limitations such as costs; investment needed to put the different material and energy exchanges and each exchange is based on a separate contract between two partners. Despite these short term limitations, the overall success has more than overcome the expenses that each individual company would incur from rising resource cost, as well as rising waste disposal/environmental stipulation costs.

The world is now at a new era, and it is time to put away the typical and traditional images of business and to find new and innovative ways to lead the way in the very important but atypical aspects of the industrial system. Companies must realize they are not separate from the human system or the environmental one; they all work together as a whole. If they work independently they risk damaging the other two systems, and if both systems are damaged, like the gears in a watch, the industrial system will fail. It is time for companies to step-up and beyond regulations and following government for in the end the most atypical move is the most advantageous move for all parties involved.

[i] “The industrial symbiosis in Kalundborg, Denmark” UNEP Environmental Management for Industrial Estates: Information and Training Resources

[ii] Mandu, Christian N. (2001) ‘Handbook of Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing’ Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, pp. 32-39


Life Within The Double Helix

The essence and diversity of life lies within each living being and organism. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has created the assortment of all things existing from butterflies to humans. The discovery of DNA structure in 1953 has fundamentally transformed and challenged the study of biology and application of jurisdictions. Since then, researchers have made substantial progress in understanding the function of DNA in a variety of organisms. An innovative breakthrough occurred in 2001; a map of the human genome was published, identifying approximately 30,000 to 40,000 human genes. Many of these genes, DNA segments that carry genetic information, have a major role in detecting human diseases and disorders. Furthermore, their identifications may be a vital step in developing new diagnostic tests and potential treatments. Human genetic coding has been the focus of many platforms of discussion due to the growing public and private concerns on “Genetic Research and Patent Protection.”

Biotechnology Patents defines patents as follows: “A patent is an agreement between the government and an inventor whereby, in exchange for the inventor’s complete disclosure of the invention, the government gives the inventor the right to exclude others from using the invention in certain ways.(…) What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to stop others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention.” (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8.) Furthermore, the rationale for a patent system was to stimulate and promote research as well as provide an incentive to benefit societal needs. Genetic patenting has been a subject of controversy in numerous categories: human, animal, agricultural (plant) or microbial genes. The on-going concern and debate is due to the rising rate of patenting human DNA sequences, thus the applicability of patent laws with respect to DNA sequences and possible consequences for societies are in question.

Until 1980, all living organisms were deemed “alive” thus not of patentable subject matter. However, in June of 1980 a landmark case Diamond v. Chakrabarty changed the judicial approach of patenting. Chakrabarty had modified bacteria by inserting specific genes that gave them the ability to break down hydrocarbons (geared towards the clean up of oil spills). According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the modified bacteria of Chakrabarty was in fact an “invention” since it could not be found in nature, and therefore was patentable (U.S. Pat. No. 4,259,444). This lead to the U.S. Patent Office stating a one-sentence decree in 1987: “Patent anything in the world that is alive, except a full birth human being.” Subsequential to this judgment, countless patents have been granted for a large number of genes, sections of genes and to the proteins they produce. Such rights and privileges have created an incentive for private as well as public institutions to pursue genetic coding. With great development and “invention” several new medicines were produced based on human proteins: Erythropoietin

(EPO) treating anemia and tissue plasminogens activator (t-PA) used for tissue remodeling. In spite of the obvious benefits, various problems arise such as preventing or delaying the development of new or improved medicines or treatments, exploiting information and hindering exchange between researchers.

DNA Sequence Monopoly: Case of BRCA1 Gene

In 1994, U.S. Myriad Genetics discovered the BRCA1 gene, located on chromosome 17, which has the capability of identifying susceptibility to breast cancer. A patent granted asserted property rights over the gene and all possible diagnostic methods thus providing Myriad Genetics monopoly over BRCA1. In 2001, Institut Curie, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris and Institut Gustave-Roussy challenged Myriad Genetics on grounds of preventing or delaying the development of new or improved medicines or treatments pertaining to BRCA1. Therefore, the exclusive right to all subsequent uses is the main concern because BRCA1 has the possibility of identifying other related or non-related diseases, which would also give authority over the diagnostic methods and treatments to Myriad Genetics.

A plausible option would be to more stringently apply or amend patent criteria on DNA sequence by not allocating full proprietorship over the gene in question. For instance, when postulating for a patent, as in this case specific to the use for diagnosis, only the initial “invention” BRCA1’s capability of identifying breast cancer, is revealed thus only it should be recognized and patented. Furthermore, all patent rights pertained to the diagnosis of breast cancer from BRCA1 will be owned by the “inventor”, in this case Myriad Genetics until it reaches patent maturity date. This will not only provide the freedom to further research the gene and develop potential “inventions” by other organizations but also provide a dialogue for exchange of knowledge between researchers and organizations.

Patents In The Treatment Context: Case of HIV/AIDS Drugs

It is estimated that 2.4 million people died in Africa, of HIV-related illnesses, in 2005 alone. India, Russia and China have followed with the highest infection rates and growing epidemics increasing by a quarter since 2003. The latest innovative drugs on the market are antiretroviral (ARV) treatments. ARVs have the ability to not only limit the damage on the immune system caused by HIV but also prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. However, all ARV medicines are currently under patent rights jurisdiction of developed countries, namely the United-States. In comparison to the Westernized world, where a large majority benefits from antiretroviral treatment, less than 5% of the population in developing countries has access to similar treatment. This brings strong evidence, that under the current patent laws, patent holders have legal right to prevent the production of a cheaper ARV medicine for third-world countries. This was brought to light in 1998 when the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PMA), representing 39 pharmaceutical companies, sought to prevent the South African government from revamping a law intended to make essential medicines more affordable in particular to HIV/AIDS medicines. This law would have allowed the generic substitution of patented brand-name drugs. However, this act was cancelled due to claims of law violations of patent and property rights.

As flagrant as the HIV/AIDS epidemic is, developing countries still suffer the burden of being at the mercy of pharmaceutical patents and property rights over much needed medicines. A proposed model called “Compulsory license” should be implemented to facilitate access to critical medical innovation. Under this model, the court will oblige patent holders to license their rights over to developing countries that are experiencing epidemics or life-threatening conditions.

Research and developments, specific to gene identification, provide an opportunity to cure and prevent life-threatening diseases. However, jurisdiction over such “inventions” should be highly controlled in order to protect the general benefit of society at a global level.