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Should business schools encourage careers in social business?

Question: Should business schools encourage careers in social business?

Thomas Cooley:  Well, I don't think business students need to be encouraged to do anything.  What you have to do is show them the world, show them what's out there.  And what I do believe is that you ought to show business students what the possibilities are, and they ought to understand the social impact of business and they ought to understand a lot about the communities in which business thrives.  What I do find, thought, is that there are a lot more, many more, students who are interested in social entrepreneurship and thinking about businesses that have a double bottom line.  They want to do well and do good at the same time.  And we actually have been-- the Stern School of Business, has been a leader in social entrepreneurship.  We have a social entrepreneurship business plan competition that was one of the first and it's one of the largest, and it gives away $100,000 a year to start up social–– I mean the winners of these competitions get that amount for getting their businesses off the ground.  So that's something that we created because we believed in it, but students are what drive it, it's their interest that drives it.

Topic: Some interesting results.

Thomas Cooley:  There are some fascinating ones.  One of them was, one of them that I remember quite well was a group that is really getting going and I think going to be successful that developed a material for growing green roofs.  So they recycle waste Styrofoam and they produced a very light, growing material that's ideally suited for green roofs.  And they're finally really getting some traction.  There are others that have, for example, one other example would be, there's a group that developed a simultaneous translation system for emergency rooms, so when emergency rooms get patients who speak some other language that's not represented in the emergency room, which happens a lot in big city hospitals.  In New York, you know, you might have somebody in your emergency room who speaks-- who's Ukrainian or Russian or whatever.  And so they developed this translations service so patients could communicate with doctors, so they could-- it's complicated to explain how they do it, but in real time, a doctor or attendee nurse can get a translation so they can communicate with the patient.

Recorded: 3/21/08


Dean Cooley talks about NYU's business school competition.

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