An MBA Founded on Mindfulness and Compassion
by Program Chair David Bergner, PhD.
The Sofia Difference
In the Sofia MBA program, you begin to sew the seeds of your future growth from the moment you start. You will gain practical knowledge and skills to apply immediately in your project work and business ventures. Sofia’s transpersonal, transformative approach to business education will provide you with the foundational business skills and deep perspective necessary to make meaningful change in your world. Sofia’s MBA curriculum is built on three pillars – Self-Knowledge, Decision Making, and Facilitative Leadership – which are grounded on a foundation of mindfulness and compassion. These three pillars underpin the Sofia MBA Core, and are woven into courses throughout the curriculum.
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The Three Pillars
Pillar One – Self Knowledge
The first pillar of our Sofia business programs is self-knowledge, the importance of which has been recognized for a long time, by cultures all over the world. For example, 2500 years ago in ancient Greece, on a pillar at the entrance to the temple at Delphi, was carved this maxim: “Know Yourself.” This was one of the most prominent of 147 such maxims, and was said to have been a divine gift. Collectively these maxims represented a philosophy of how to live a right life.
Around the same time, in ancient China, it was written in Laozi, the Daodejing:
Laozi implies self-knowledge is the essential foundation of self-mastery and true power. Think of power simply as the ability to get something done you can’t do all by yourself. The bigger the things you can accomplish, the more power you have. According to this ancient wisdom, in order to live a right life and develop the power to help make the world a better place, you must develop self-knowledge.
Although the importance of self-knowledge has been known since ancient times, modern business education may not seem to pay enough attention to it. Business students at Sofia can develop deeper self-knowledge through the Sofia Core, as well as a number of additional electives such as Self Cultivation, Leadership & Self-Development, Critical Hermeneutics, and various opportunities to practice meditation and mindfulness.
Pillar Two – Decision Making
Our integral approach to decision-making in organizational settings allows us to pull together knowledge from across the boundaries of virtually all the traditional business disciplines, and to bring it into focus in a holistic way. One of a leader’s key roles is to make decisions, which often end in the leader’s lap, because that’s what gets sent up the chain from subordinates – decisions that are difficult to make. So, decision-making, studied in a holistic way, is a pillar of our business programs at Sofia. At Sofia, we’re in a unique position to draw also on our expertise in Transpersonal Psychology, to educate the whole person, as a solid foundation for excellent decision-making, communication, and leadership skills.
Pillar Three – Facilitative Leadership
The third pillar of our MBA program is Facilitative leadership. Facilitative leaders know how to realize the potential that exists within their teams, to pool the collective knowledge of team members and apply it to problems and decisions at hand, and how to motivate follow-through. This entails knowing how to build rapport, to establish credibility and trust, and how to ask the right questions to bring out knowledge and concerns. The facilitative leader works to create an environment where everyone feels engaged, and ideas flow freely. People leave meetings feeling a sense of clarity, purpose, direction, and accomplishment. Sofia students develop a foundation for leadership in the Sofia Core, and through leadership electives such as Critical Hermeneutics for Leaders and Managers, Transpersonal Leadership, Leadership and Self-Development, and Entrepreneurial Spirit.
The Sofia MBA Core
The “Sofia Core” consists of courses in three areas:
- Transpersonal Psychology
- Integral Decision Science
- Mindfulness in Organizations.
Transpersonal Psychology extends the framework of modern psychology to include spiritual and transcendent dimensions of human experience. It is concerned with individual development beyond the ego, and transformative relationships that foster virtues such as compassion, dedication to higher values, service, commitment to something greater than oneself, and ultimately, the achievement of humanity’s highest potentials.
Integral Decision Science incorporates diverse approaches and extends the typical framework of decision science to include transpersonal perspectives, as well as design thinking, semantics, and the philosophy of language. This integral approach considers internal, external, individual, and collective perspectives on decision-making and decision education. Students learn to employ an integral decision process that balances three human strengths: Cool Head (quantitative, rational), Warm Heart (interpersonal, emotional) and Guiding Soul (contemplative, transpersonal).
Mindfulness in Organizations courses extend typical frameworks of organizational theory and organizational behavior, to emphasize the emerging body of knowledge and practice regarding mindfulness in organizational settings. Students explore how they can contribute to the transformation and well being of individuals, relationships, organizations, and society, in light of the knowledge they gain in this course as well as other areas of the Sofia Core.
Cornerstone Projects are a key aspect of the Sofia difference. A capstone is a stone that goes on top of something, typically a wall; metaphorically, this represents completion. A cornerstone is an essential component in the foundation of building; metaphorically, this represents a beginning. Many business programs have Capstone Projects, culminating projects in which students apply the knowledge and theory they have gained in their program. Cornerstone Projects can serve this purpose as well. At Sofia, students can also use Cornerstone Projects to lay a foundation for their future, acquiring and applying knowledge meaningfully from the start of their program.
Many students come to Sofia already with a mission, perhaps an entrepreneurial spirit and the intention to start a company, or a project they are leading at work. Other students may be at a transition point in their lives, seeking a change. Such students will identify projects during the program that could become the foundation of their work following graduation. All students focus on applying knowledge as they learn, for example, by doing projects for local companies or their current employer, developing and presenting business plans to venture fund managers, or following their personal interests to develop new capabilities and demonstrated accomplishments.
Sofia’s School of Business and Social Entrepreneurship provides a one-of-a kind context for interdisciplinary learning and student collaborations. Sofia’s business students typically have strong interdisciplinary interests across two or more areas including Psychology, Computer Science, Business, and Transformative Technologies. Many of these courses are taken by students in different majors. This fosters interdisciplinary interaction among students in core courses and electives as well as Cornerstone Projects. This interdisciplinary culture allows students to develop themselves in ways that couldn’t be accomplished in courses and projects when students are all business majors, computer science majors, or engineers, for example.
Students acquire the perspectives and skills needed for success in business. A recent poll by the Graduate Management Admissions Council reported 98% of employers said business school graduates need to be able to use data to drive decisions, and 98 percent also said graduates must exhibit exceptional interpersonal skills. These very high percentages imply business school graduates should excel in both areas. And this is precisely the balance of skills and knowledge we seek to impart to our business students.
Upon completion of the Master of Business Administration Program, students will have acquired the following knowledge, skills, and abilities:
- Knowledge: Demonstrate competencies across business disciplines, specifically apply the essential elements of core business principles to analyze and evaluate problems and to construct and implement solutions in the business environment.
- Critical and Creative Thinking: Demonstrate critical thinking, specifically employ appropriate analytical and qualitative models, and apply critical reasoning processes to evaluate evidence, select among alternatives, and generate creative options in furtherance of effective decision making.
- Teamwork and Leadership Competencies: Demonstrate teamwork and leadership skills and collaborate with a variety of people using elements of effective team dynamics to effectively and appropriately structure teamwork. Lead empathetically and develop organizational strategies built on principles of mindfulness.
- Communication Skills: Possess effective communication skills, writes concisely and analytically and speaks in groups and in public clearly, concisely and analytically.
- Business Strategy in Global Environment: Possess the skills required to integrate concepts from various disciplines to identify and develop business strategies in global environment and understand cultural and diversity issues.
Students are required to complete an approved program plan of 48 Quarter Units comprised of:
- 15 Sofia Core units
- 18 Units of Business Fundamentals
- 15 Units of Concentration Electives and Cornerstone Projects
The MBA program is on a 4 quarter system. Students will have flexibility as to how they schedule their coursework.
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