Poetry for MBA Students


Chris Sivewright from Oxford’s school of learning has written a whole book about how to teach poetry writing skills to business students. You may be thinking, but business studies and poetry? The emotional flights of fancy of poetry simply cannot gel with the rational analysis of business studies. But in fact, Sivewright tells us that both business and poetry are innately creative acts that start with a single idea.

He points out that both entrepreneurs and poets take an intuitive leap whenever they have a new idea, and they find ways to best communicate it to their audience. Not only is there a huge overlap between these two disciplines, but they may actually complement each other to enhance students’ learning.

Sivewright discusses Babson College’s Graduate School of Business, Massachusetts, as their MBA has a poetry module, which was first introduced as a compulsory course in 1996. In the 1990s, Babson administrators redesigned the entire MBA program with creativity in mind. Spearheaded by US poet Mary Pinard, the poetry course exposed students to the basics of stylish writing, the creative process, and navigating ambiguity, essential skills for successful careers in entrepreneurship and business. The course was originally assessed in a pass/fail format, with the main assessment consisting of a 30-minute campus-wide presentation with a Q&A about what they had learned and produced. One student reflected that “At the beginning, it was a chore,” but over time, she had realized that “creative work is very liberating… I think it helped me recognize that feelings and deep-seated thoughts have a place in the business world.”

For more on teaching poetry to business students, see Poetry for Sustainability in Business amid the Covid-19 Crisis.

Chris Sivewright. Using Poetry to teach Business Studies. Oxford: The Oxford School of Learning, 2012. http://oxfordschooloflearning.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/BusinessStudies_Using_Poetry_To_Teach_Business_Studies.pdf