The impact of the financial crisis on Wall Street has been wide-spread, but what is not as well-known is the impact the financial crisis is having on Tappan Street.

In many classrooms at the Ross School of Business, for BBA and MBA students alike, the financial crisis is serving as an educational tool to think about current issues in the business world. Some classes are specifically covering events that have occurred throughout the recession, while others are being restructured using the economic downturn as a practical guide.

Valerie Suslow, associate dean for degree programs in the Business School, explained that some courses will be updated to thoroughly study risk and others will be designed to give students leadership skills to cope with difficult economic times in the future.

“We’re taking a more comprehensive approach to risk assessment in some of our finance courses,” Suslow wrote in an e-mail interview. “The Finance Department has revamped its curriculum to make sure everything fits together and addresses recent issues.”

One such class is the Macroeconomic Analysis of Capital Markets, which focuses on the causes of the economic crisis, the impact on capital markets and the public policy implications, she wrote.

Accounting Prof. William Lanen, who is also chair of the Accounting Department, said though the department doesn’t have courses that relate to the specific events of the recession, accounting courses are now taking a new approach to traditional accounting concepts.

In a Masters of Accounting class, students are introduced to specific material but also hear from alumnae guest speakers who can offer insight into the current financial situation and provide examples from their own careers in accounting, Lanen said.

Masters of Accounting students were offered a chance to travel to Washington D.C. last academic year — with support from the accounting firm Ernst and Young — to speak with those involved in financial regulations, accounting standards and economic legislation, Lanen said.

“It gives them a background beyond the technical textbook type of learning to kinds of institutional issues that arise and the kinds of pressures that the accounting profession is under,” Lanen said.

In order to teach his students about the tangible effects of the recession, Gerald Meyers, a lecturer in organizational behavior and human resource management in the Business School, brings in CEOs as guest speakers to his leadership and crisis management course.

Meyers said using the financial crisis as a teaching tool is “not only valuable, it’s necessary.”

“It colors everything that’s been going on in the business world and it’s changed our emphasis considerably,” he said.

Norman Bishara, assistant professor of business law and ethics, teaches both BBA and MBA classes dealing with ethics and law in the business world. He said he hasn’t added specific topics or readings to the courses regarding the financial crisis, but the topic presents itself because it is often of interest to students.

In his classes, which focus on law, Bishara draws on poor decisions made by financial professionals and the ensuing economic crisis as examples of ethics in business.

“You can also use it as a teaching tool in the teachable moments to talk about how problems could have been avoided and how some of them are related to simple business ethics problems that are as simple as people engaging in greed or people violating the law and committing fraud and that sort of corruption,” he said.

The financial crisis was a planned topic of discussion in Finance 300 last semester, but classes didn’t have time to cover it, though it was listed as the subject of the last lecture on the syllabus.

While he didn’t get to this lecture because of timing and preparation for student’s interviews, Ing-Haw Cheng, assistant professor of finance said that he tried to incorporate the topic into his lecture materials whenever the opportunity presented itself.

“The main theme that I tried to push in the class is that one of the approximate reasons that you can think of behind the financial crisis is maybe too strong of a belief of the models we used in finance,” Cheng said.

“I tried to teach my students some evidence as to kind of recognize some situations where market efficiency may be breaking down and hence, the tools I’m trying to teach them might not be the most applicable in those situations,” he said.

BBA junior Jason Raymond said that while these concepts were touched upon in class, he would have liked to hear more about the crisis.

“I think it’s very important to address a lot of the current issues going on in our economy,” Raymond said. “And, it was unfortunate that we didn’t cover it as much as we were originally promised, I guess.”

While Raymond believes that the crisis is an important concept to learn about, he added, “It’s important to cover the (course) material as well so that you can better understand the financial crisis or the mortgage crisis or whatever other crisis are out there in the financial sector.”

Jim Cooper, a BBA junior and recent student in Finance 300 said he doesn’t think it’s the Business School’s obligation to teach students about the financial crisis. He said students should be learning about the topic by reading news sources like The Wall Street Journal.

“The financial crisis was just one more historical, financial event. It’s just like the Great Depression, or when the stock market crashed in ’87,” Cooper said. “I think it’s one of those things that you just need to learn about on your own, especially if you want to work in finance so, it’s not really one of those academic things I think that you should devote a class to.”

Not only is the recent financial crisis drastically altering class at the Business School, it’s also impacting the way instructors in other parts of the University teach their courses, especially those related to public policy.

Kathryn Dominguez, professor of public policy and economics, is currently teaching three courses that directly relate to the financial situation both in the United States and abroad. One of these courses is a macroeconomics class that examines the implications of economic policy put into effect in the wake of the crisis.

Because of the financial crisis, Dominguez said the way that she discusses the United States and its monetary policy in relation to other countries around the world will change this semester, as it is a telling example of a country in economic shambles.

“In most cases when I’ve taught this course in the past, we’ve looked at developing countries as our example because the U.S. has been kind of boring in terms of policy,” she said. “We don’t tend to have very large changes in macro-policy, or we haven’t in the last decade or so, but now the U.S. will be a very interesting example to look at.”

Dominguez said the federal stimulus package is one fiscal policy her class will be tracking because of its importance as a real world example of the efficacy of government policy that relates to the economy.

Daniel Silverman, associate professor of economics, used the financial crisis in his government expenditures course last semester as the “extended example” for market failure and government response, and said he thought students appreciated learning about such a relevant topic.

“Speaking for myself at least, not for the students, it was a terrific opportunity to really put the ideas that we were working on in the class to useful application,” Silverman said. “And based on the student evaluations, the written comments, it seemed like it was a big hit. I may not have taught it all that well, but students really appreciated this opportunity to think about the crisis and learn more about it.”

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