From the Dean
The effect of technology in all sectors of the economy, in all aspects of our lives, is profound. Over the past few months, we all witnessed the exponential improvement in artificial intelligence—this time in the context of language models. Change is poised to only accelerate.
At Columbia Business School, we have continually retooled how we educate students to meet contemporary business needs, and we have fundamentally advanced business practices with our scholarship.
Ten years ago, we began expanding our curriculum with classes tackling areas such as algorithmic decision-making, machine learning, and the coding platform Python. And, over the past five years, we’ve vastly expanded our elective offerings in response to the rapidly changing business landscape, how it impacts strategy, marketing, and crucially, how it affects team dynamics, management, and leadership.
Our curriculum now offers a comprehensive range of courses that delves deeply into fields such as tech fundamentals, applied AI, digital product management, blockchain, crypto, and climate tech. We offer experiential courses in cross-functional teams, which are ubiquitous in modern organizations, and opportunities to explore the impact of tech and data on valuation and investing.
In a new class, Technology Breakthroughs, which I now teach with Professor Shih-Fu Chang, dean of Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, we bring in an array of faculty experts from the Business School and Columbia Engineering to discuss current developments in areas ranging from deep learning to computational imaging and computer vision to robotics.
And interest in Python is only growing, with nearly 300 of the entering MBA students in 2021 having taken, or currently taking, a course in the programming language. Our Intro to Python class is by far the most popular online course, underscoring how much our alumni appreciate the usefulness of exposure to programming and algorithmic thinking in their own professional journeys today. The class is available to all alumni through Alumni Edge.
The book Python for MBAs was written by CBS faculty Mattan Griffel and Daniel Guetta, just two of our researchers who are contributing directly to many of the advances we teach. Scholars such as Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, who uses big data to improve real estate analytics, and Carri Chan, whose work is improving healthcare delivery, are advancing the smart adoption of technology. Other faculty, such as Stephan Meier, who studies the impact of automation on the workforce, and Sandra Matz and her research on psychological targeting, document and share vital perspectives on the impact of technology on business practices.
Other faculty members are leading the way in cutting-edge research that shapes our daily online interactions. For instance, Assaf Zeevi’s work on machine learning and its integration in the healthcare industry is highly innovative. Dan Russo’s research on AI, particularly in the area of reinforcement learning, has far-reaching applications in developing large-scale recommendation systems. Bo Cowgill’s research on labor markets offers valuable insights into the impact of automation in the workforce. And in his recent book, Oded Netzer demonstrates how data and intuition can be combined to make informed business decisions, providing practical recommendations for business leaders.
Building on all of this activity, late last year we established the Digital Future Initiative, an ambitious effort to focus on the global transformation to a digital economy. In January, we launched four new research labs to bring together students, business practitioners, and leading faculty from across Columbia University to promote research and curriculum development in the areas of the algorithmic economy, digital finance, humans in the digital economy, and media and technology. The goal is to interface more closely with businesses, organizations, governments, and communities in an effort to optimize and accelerate technological advances.
It is an exciting time to be at CBS, and I look forward to all we will do, together, to shape the digital future.
Dean, Columbia Business School
David and Lyn Silfen Professor of Business