“Why are you going to business school?” my friend asked, with some concern, “It seems like such a waste of your time. Why not study history or philosophy or the Great Books or something you’d enjoy.” It was a good question. I was commmitting myself to spending two years going to school full-time (while working full-time) to get a degree in a subject—business administration—in which I didn’t feel particularly passionate. But I felt that God was calling me to go to B-school. So I went.
Living in northern Virginia I was fortunate to have several excellent MBA programs to choose from so I applied to a local, private Catholic university. Although I’m an Evangelical (a Reformed Baptist, to be exact), I figured attending a Catholic school would help teach me to integrate business with my Christian faith. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
What I soon discovered was that in this “Catholic” school Christ could be found on the crucifix above the doorways but would be found nowhere in the curriculum. None of the professors ever expressed a specifically Christian viewpoint and some grew rather uncomfortable when I or my classmates would do so. Just as in non-Christian colleges, the prevailing impression at this Catholic school was that secular neutrality was the only legitimate norm. The result was that expressing an opinion that resembled that of, say, a Catholic bishop, was often considered offensive. For instance, in a class on non-profit marketing the adjunct instructor was shocked when I expressed the opinion that Planned Parenthood was the epitome of corporate evil and was not, as she had assured us, a model for marketing excellence.
I suspect my experience is not uncommon. While there are still some schools that subscribe to the idea of Christian scholarship, they have become exceedingly rare. In most schools—particularly in most business schools—the assumption is that the topics of study are “religiously neutral.” What does God have to do with finance? What does Wall Street have to do with Jerusalem?
Quite a lot actually. In fact, there is almost nothing about business administration that is “religiously neutral.” Yet every year thousands of Christians enter and exit B-School without learning how to “think Christianly” about their education or vocation. With so few direct resources available to them in business school, how should they go about developing a “Christian mind”?
I’ve pondered that question for two years, and although I completed my MBA program two weeks ago, I still can’t stop thinking about it. While I certainly don’t have all the answers and it would take a book-length treatment to adequately cover the topic, I wanted to explore the issue in a series of blog posts.
In this series we’ll consider a variety of topics, including what you really get out of such programs, what it means to develop a “Christian mind”, and how can we learn to engage in Business Administration from a Biblical worldview.
But before we get to that there’s more prolegomena to cover, so in the next post we’ll clarify what business school is and reasons why it may or may not be the right educational choice.