Higher aims fulfilled: The social capital academy as a means for advancing underrepresented students in comprehensive university business schools

Current research underscores how college education can reflect broader social inequality through the disproportionate flow of resources to elite universities and the advantaged students they serve. In contrast, under-resourced comprehensive universities disproportionately serve underrepresented minority, first-generation, and working-class students. This article argues for the comprehensive university as an institution uniquely positioned to reduce social inequality and the comprehensive university undergraduate business school (CUUBS) as the first test of a new approach to education. The article advocates a substantive response to social inequality by 1) focusing the business school on undergraduate education within comprehensive universities rather than on the MBA program within well-funded elite business schools; 2) implementing a strategic emphasis on underrepresented and first-generation students’ attainment of career-related jobs (CRJs) upon graduation; and 3) helping students to pursue CRJs via the development of a Social Capital Academy (SCA), a program that offers effective network building, social skills, and career engagement, alongside the traditional formal university coursework. The paper describes the benefits of the SCA for underrepresented students, its requirements and benefits for universities and business communities, and the possibilities for scaling the program to significantly address social inequality. Future applications of the SCA to STEM-related fields is briefly explored.

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