Academic journal article Journal of Risk and Insurance

Presidential Address: Risk Management and Insurance Education: Will We Miss the Boat?

Academic journal article Journal of Risk and Insurance

Presidential Address: Risk Management and Insurance Education: Will We Miss the Boat?

Article excerpt

It is a high privilege and a great honor for me to serve as president of this Association and thereby to be identified with such distinguished scholars as our previous presidents.

I thank all of you for your support and trust, and look forward to your continuing counsel and active involvement in the affairs of the Association--for your active involvement is crucial to our future. We and our association are entering turbulent waters, and the course that we set now and over the next five years will determine whether our discipline prospers or declines.

Why do I make this assertion? First, as is well known, the national demand for undergraduate business education peaked in the late 1980s and has been declining since (Green, 1992). Additionally, applications for MBA programs have fallen at most schools. At the same time, questions of the value and quality of business education have arisen. Our discipline is not immune to these trends and questions.

Second, financial problems abound for universities. Given declining business school enrollments, the timing could not be worse. Our discipline is feeling these effects.

Third, in such a stringent environment, specialty courses and programs probably are most vulnerable. We are perceived as such a specialty.

Fourth, and in many ways the most important, I question whether we and our association have made as much progress in certain key areas as we ought to have made. What do I mean?

Three Challenges Facing Business Education

According to the Commission on Admission to Graduate Management Education (1990), three key issues will affect business students and programs in the future: accelerating rates of change, increasing demographic diversity, and globalization of world markets. I would like to speak briefly about these three challenges in the context of RMI education.

First, regarding change: clearly, business education is changing. External pressures stem from business questioning the relevance and value of much of what we do and in turn from those who control the purse strings requesting proof that our output is good and our assessment methods sound.

Internal pressures come from reports such as Porter and McKibben's Management Education and Development (1988), and from the AACSB's new mission-linked accreditation guidelines. Indeed, introspection and change probably will come to characterize business education issues of the 1990s.

Yet, I wonder whether we can similarly characterize RMI education? To be successful into the next century, we must be adaptable. Do our courses prepare students for the world of the twenty-first century, where change is the only constant, or do they reflect a more static world view? Do our textbooks convey a sense of dynamism, or are they more compilations of institutional facts and figures? Do we produce thoughtful, forward-looking research that provides insight for the future, or are our efforts directed more toward investigating whether things are being done right rather than whether the right things are being done?

To understand change--to educate for change--we must help students appreciate the social, economic, and political forces that drive change. This means that our courses, our textbooks, and our research should routinely view RMI within a broad context. I fear that too often we treat RMI in isolation from these catalysts of change. We must demonstrate how RMI is influenced by and how it, in turn, influences the environment.

True, we should help students develop skills for their first jobs, but, more importantly, we should help them establish an RMI learning paradigm that serves them well through their last jobs. It is as important that students understand the social, economic, and political forces that cause change in insurance company operations as it is that they understand the operations themselves. Yet how many of us and how many of our textbooks provide such a vitally important environmental context? …

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