The IE Brown Executive M.B.A. Program, an experimental business master's program resulting from a partnership between the University and the Instituto Empresa Business School, will begin next spring, Provost David Kertzer '69 P'95 P'98 announced Monday.
Instituto Empresa is a top-tier international business school located in Madrid and Segovia, Spain.
The partnership will bring greater international recognition to the University and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty, Kertzer said.
The master's program, intended for participants with over 10 years of work experience, will combine online and in-classroom interdisciplinary study with the core of a traditional master's of business administration program, according to David Bach, the program's academic director, dean of programs and professor of strategic management at IE.
For the 25 to 30 students who will make up next year's class, the program will "bend the M.B.A. without breaking it," he said.
"It's like nothing we have here," said Dean of Continuing Education Karen Sibley MAT'81 P'07 P'12, adding that the closest program Brown currently has to a business degree is the Engineering Department's Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship.
The program will begin next spring, according to Professor of Engineering Angus Kingon, a member of the faculty team developing the new program's curriculum. Participants will be "typically middle managers making a transition into senior management," he said. Most will be full-time corporate employees, though some may come from nonprofit organizations, he said.
The 15-month M.B.A. program will consist of a total of five face-to-face sessions adding up to a total of eight weeks, according to Bach. The five sessions will take place on the Brown and IE Madrid campuses, though it is possible that another international site will be added, he said.
Online learning will also be a key component of the program, he said, noting that the Economist recently ranked the IE International Executive M.B.A. Program the number-one Distance Learning M.B.A. program in the world.
IE runs several other collaborative programs with U.S. institutions, including Dartmouth and the University of Chicago, who both have existing graduate business programs.
What will make this particular partnership so innovative is its liberal arts approach to business and interdisciplinary focus, Kingon said.
Before coming to Brown, Kingon taught in an M.B.A. program. "There is a lot of discussion about the inefficiencies of the M.B.A. right now," he said, citing many modern business schools' simplified, unrealistic approach to the complexities of real-world management.
This program's liberal arts perspective, a combination of psychology, sociology, philosophy and other disciplines, is much more nuanced, he said.
It is a collaboration that made sense because of Brown's strong tradition in the liberal arts, Bach said. He added that Brown is also one of the only two Ivy League schools without an M.B.A. program, making it easier to found an experimental business program.
"We're starting from scratch in a way," he said.
Unlike traditional courses, the curriculum will be organized into modules, Kingon said. A module, such as the decision-making module he is personally developing, is flexible in structure and could be composed of five classes or even 30 classes, Kingon said.
Brown faculty from diverse fields such as visual arts, religious studies and Africana studies will work together to help develop the curriculum, according to Bach, who has a background in political science. He added that the program will also contain "conventional elements" such as finance and accounting.
The program grew out of a relationship between Brown and IE, both of which signed a "memorandum of understanding" last February in which they pledged to consider future academic collaboration.
Planning for the program began in the summer, Bach said.
Though the program is a collaboration between the two universities, IE will be responsible for admitting prospective students, Sibley said. "It's their degree," she added. "Our partnership is to contribute the liberal arts component."
The collaboration grew out of Brown's internationalization efforts, Kertzer said. "This will be just one of a number of agreements with institutions around the world," he said.
"As we think about expanding professional graduate training programs, we are always thinking about how they might enrich opportunities for undergrads," he added, citing the benefits resulting from interdisciplinary work between faculty.
According to Kertzer, Brown does not have plans to found a business school.
Another result of the partnership with IE is a summer program in Segovia for high school students run by the Office of Continuing Education, Sibley said. They will learn about subjects such as Spanish culture and European finance, she said.