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Does Religion Belong in the B-School Curriculum?

Does Religion Belong in the B-School Curriculum?
Photograph by Godong/Getty Images

“I knew a fellow named Otto Kahn,” Groucho Marx once recalled. (Kahn was an extremely wealthy New Yorker who occasionally taught at Princeton and was a prominent donor to the Metropolitan Opera House.) “His close friend was Marshall P. Wilder, who was a hunchback.” One day, in the 1930’s, they passed a beautiful, newly constructed synagogue on Fifth Avenue and Kahn turned to Wilder and said, “You know, I used to be a Jew.” “Really?” said Wilder, “I used to be a hunchback.”

It’s a famous story that could be applied to disabilities or race relations or class—Wilder was a famous African-American actor—a diorama of core disparities of just about any kind. I am using the story here to underline a worthy goal that most top B-Schools struggle to achieve: “Global Minds.” We do, in fact, a lot to foster this ideal: We make certain that long periods of time are spent working or schooling abroad. We insist on learning the languages of emerging markets, and spending long periods immersed in exotic and challenging cultures. Dr. Judy Olian, Dean of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, insists that we learn more from abrasive experiences than blander ones: Mali over Monaco, Iceland over Ireland. I wholeheartedly agree.