Cases and diversity

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The footballer Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from international football because he no longer feels welcome in the German national team.

Ozil, a German with Turkish roots, has 92 caps for his country. When Germany reached the World Cup semi-final in 2010, Ozil was the player who provided the most assists, and when they won the trophy in 2014, Ozil was central to the team. By then, his £42.5 million transfer from Real Madrid to Arsenal in 2013 had made him the most expensive German player of all time.

Ozil’s decision is clearly a significant blow to the German national team, and is likely to have a significant long-term impact. How much talent will be lost to German football when children with similar mixed backgrounds look at Ozil and consider which national squads they might choose over Germany.

So, diversity in student recruitment is important for individual students, for the life and vitality and success of the student body and the school, as well as for the talent that is attracted, developed and enters business after graduation. Making one student feel less welcome may have countless repercussions on the decisions made by future students.

Female teacher addressing university students in a classroom

Ilana Kowarski’s recent article in US News draws a direct link between diversity in recruitment and quality of education. Students with experience of working in diverse teams at business schools are more prepared for the business world they are likely to enter after graduation.

Can the case method help schools create an environment that encourages and fosters diversity? I was encouraged to read the contribution made by Whitney Kestner, Director of Admissions at the Darden School of Business, who highlighted the strengths of the case method in bringing together diverse student experience in class discussions.

It’s been my experience, speaking to educators around the world, that the choice of cases, in putting together a course, is critical. By choosing a range of cases featuring diverse protagonists from different industries, levels and cultures, educators can create teaching materials appropriate to a diverse student body, and which encourage individuals to speak up in discussions, as the class acknowledges their expertise in a case reflecting their background.

I’m very proud of the work done by The Case Centre to encourage case writing in countries across the world, and in distributing collections that reflect the diversity of our students and of the world they are shaping.  You can find out more about our list of collections here.

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Calling all case students

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There is an alchemy that takes place in a case classroom. It exists at that point in the reaction between the case and the discussion, when it sparks into life and the class catches fire. It is created by the case teacher.

This alchemy is an underrated skill and one that can be overlooked – but students know it when they see it, and they value most those teachers who have it.

So, it’s to students that we turn to first when seeking nominations for our annual Outstanding Case Teacher competition. And when the list of previous winners includes these outstanding teachers, who could argue with that?

Nominations for this year’s prize close on Friday (27 July). Please make your students aware of the competition and help them recognise an outstanding case teacher in your school.

Further details are available here: www.thecasecentre.org/nominatenow

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