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What curriculum for a VUCA world?

Business schools and their accreditation bodies put a strong emphasis on constructive alignment (Biggs 1996). The curriculum should be objectives-driven (Bobbitt 1918; Tyler 1949): we promise students that they will learn certain things. We then design activities to ensure that our students reach these objectives.

This often requires a simplification and chunking of the material. In economics, I use many different models to explain the economy. These are clearly a simplification of the world, but a necessary one. For example, I explain trade and comparative advantages using a 2 country-2 goods model. This allows us many insights into the benefits of trade, its costs to specific groups, the effect of power, etc. This simplification is necessary to start understanding trade. However, if we stop there, we are missing an important part of the story such as work conditions, political choices, or environmental sustainability.

When simplifying, we need to think about how we are doing this and who benefits. The simple comparative advantage model supports the neoclassical view of the world. If I stop there, students will know the dominant Western discourse, but miss much of the other ways of understanding. As a teacher, I must prepare my students for taking responsibility in a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). A linear, predictable and unique model is no longer enough -if it ever was. Our curriculum needs to reflect this complexity, it needs to reflect our ‚open, recursive, organic, non-linear and emergent’ world (Gough 2013, 1220).


References:


Biggs, John. 1996. “Enhancing Teaching through Constructive Alignment.” Higher Education 32 (3): 347–64.

Bobbitt, Frank. 1918. The Curriculum. Boston,.

Gough, N.1, 2013. “Towards Deconstructive Nonalignment: A Complexivist View of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning.” South African Journal of Higher Education 27 (5): 1213–33.

Tyler, Ralph W. (Ralph Winfred). 1949. Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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