When a group of female students from Dartmouth College noticed the lack of diversity in the Tuck School of Business case studies, they decided to take action.
In 2020, they worked with professors to audit Tuck’s Core MBA and Electives. Their findings revealed the lack of representation of women and other minority actors. So they set up a meeting with Dia Draper, Tuck’s assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion. Hoping to inspire change, the group presented their research to Draper.
“My first thought was that these young people were amazing,” says Draper Poets&Quants. “What they presented to me was so professional. I admired their boldness in saying how important and critical diversity is in education.
Shortly after, Draper had a conversation between faculty and alumni who were looking for opportunities to promote inclusive leadership. She told them about the student presentation, which piqued their interest. Next50 – a student-run organization and scholarship program – then emerged. “The 50s in Next50 not only refers to the past 50 years of Tuck being co-ed, but also the next 50 years of Tuck having a diverse student body that is not just one-dimensional,” says Gissell Castellon, Co-Chair of Next50. .
‘IT’S A SIMPLICITY WE’RE GOING IN THIS DIRECTION’
With the goal of having 50% of business case study participants represent gender, race and nationality diversity by 2025, the initiative’s goal is to help every student see in the business leaders he studies. “It’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of the business leaders we study when we don’t share certain characteristics with them, like gender or race,” says Lindsay Cox, another co-chair of Next50. “Increased representation in case studies reinforces that anyone can be a business leader worth studying, admiring and emulating, regardless of gender, race, nationality, orientation sexual, etc.”
Next50 has grown significantly since that meeting in 2020. Now the team has 12 fellows and 15 associates working with Tuck faculty, administration, students, and alumni to create a more inclusive MBA experience.
This year, the initiative has made significant progress; he created a faculty advisory board, planned Tuck’s first-ever case-writing competition in 2023, and hosted a case-writing workshop, which served as a pilot for the competition. Additionally, the folks at Next50 collaborated with faculty members Joseph Hall and Brian Tomlin to write their first original case study featuring SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell, which will be taught in the Core Operations course next year.
“We felt that giving students a sense of what writing a case entails — and creating a new case with a female protagonist — was a win-win approach,” says Hall, Senior Associate Dean of Tuck for Teaching and Learning who engaged Next50 to help write the brief.
“It just seems obvious that we have to go in this direction,” Hall continues. “We want to make sure that what we do in the classroom is representative of the students who are sitting in front of us.”
THE FIRST EVER CASE WRITING COMPETITION
Castellon shares that there are a few outcomes that the Next50 group wants to achieve through the case writing competition, such as developing a repository of ideas and examples of diverse protagonists that professors can use in Classes. “In some cases, this includes writing out-of-the-box cases with various protagonists that can be immediately integrated into the core curriculum,” she says.
The group also hopes that the case competition can expose students to inclusive case creation and provide them and professors with the opportunity to collaborate on case writing and coursework. “Overall, we want this case competition to raise awareness about diversity in the university curriculum,” adds Next50 Third Co-Chair Tabitha Bennett.
But integrating diversity into case studies isn’t as simple as changing names, identifiers or culturally appropriate markers, according to Draper; case studies are formulated around real protagonists, problems and situations – and must also meet certain learning objectives. “It’s not just about including diversity for diversity’s sake,” continues Draper. “It’s about normalizing certain things, like the fact that there are women working in operational roles.”