What Does Being Too ‘Woke’ Mean for Australian Business Schools?

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Regarding business education, Australian universities balance staying informed and getting too “woke”.

This week, Monash University Business School’s ill-advised journey into the world of extreme identity politics was laid bare when its students vociferously denounced an “appalling” task that made them assess their own “privilege”. It became clear that Australian business schools face a difficult path if they continue to pursue radical ideology.

Students who were male, white, attractive and affluent, as well as possessing a higher level of literacy than others in their class, were deemed to contain “domination” over those who did not fit the same criteria; such individuals included gender-nonconforming people, infertile persons or women, working-class folks with disabilities or ethnic minorities.

An anonymous Monah MBA student expressed that the ordeal was “absolutely disgusting”, and another pupil affirmed that introducing such radical gender and race theory “clearly aimed to separate” their cohort to conform with the university’s preferred standpoint.

The student noted, “Instead of helping students cultivate their power and responsibility, the message was that unchangeable characteristics predetermine one’s future success. This approach divides people along ideological lines while failing to recognise individual context – a sentiment we can all agree needs addressing.”

Many academic institutions have been progressively introducing aspects of social justice and ESG practices within their MBA programs with tremendous success. This reflects a more significant shift from the traditional corporate model focusing solely on shareholder profits to one driven by broader societal goals.

With activism and progressivism still rising in educational institutions, business schools and patrons must contemplate how much is too much. How ‘woke’ should one be?

According to journalist Emma Goldberg, business school students are mastering the fundamental principles of management theory and how to reshape capitalism to meet corporate social responsibilities.

“Last month, Harvard launched its Institute for the Study of Business in Global Society, signifying that leading business schools are becoming more politically engaged,” she wrote.

For Australian business schools, the key is to balance staying woke and maintaining their credibility. It’s time to reevaluate how ‘woke’ should be to create an environment where students can bring their best selves without sacrificing intellectual rigour or personal values.

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