The Darden School of Business is introducing ten new courses this academic year covering a range of topics, including marketing, entrepreneurship, the entertainment industry and writing. The new courses incorporate writing skill and the study of the arts into some of the department’s offerings.
Asst. Business Administration Prof. Anthony Palomba, who is in his third year teaching at Darden, will be leading a class called “Media & Entertainment Business.” He said the course is designed to help students increase their media literacy, develop critical analytical skills and design business strategies for customers through the use of the socratic method to examine real world examples.
Palomba’s own tagline for the class is “understanding media audiences and media firm strategies.” The class will start with a discussion about the importance of art and end with a discussion on the importance of artists as creators, according to Palomba.
“As business people, it’s incredibly important that we begin to understand why we do art,” Palomba said. “Every company today is a media company — whether it’s a law firm, whether it’s a doctor’s office, whether it’s a car company.”
Palomba said he advocated for the implementation of this class, referencing the growing relevance of art in business.
“Why do we need art?" Palomba said. “This is something that I don’t think we spend enough time on as we’re churning out content.”
Evidently, student interest supported Palomba’s thoughts as the class has filled nearly all of its 68 slots.
One of the things Palomba said he plans to implement into the structure of his course is his own research on media consumption behaviors and generative artificial intelligence machine learning techniques, including a data analysis of art’s impact on an audience conducted through language processing.
Palomba said he had the idea for the course when he started working at Darden, but the changes that came along with COVID-19 made it hard to establish. He said he designed the class from the ground-up, implementing group activity and assigning specialized topics pertaining to each week.
First-year PhD program student Abhishek Kulkarni came from a background in stand-up comedy. Kulkarni said he decided to shift from performing arts to business because of the program’s research and professors.
“Innovation comes at the edge of this comfort zone,” Kulkarni said. “All of management theory seems like Darden’s comfort zone, so arts classes would help get to that extra innovation push.”
Steve Soltis, a lecturer at the Darden school, will be teaching a course titled “Writing for Impact and Influence” in the second quarter of this semester. The course will immerse students in hands-on writing instruction focusing on tools used in the business workplace — everything from how to write executive briefs to pitching a business to email etiquette through workshops.
“Virtually every class, we’ll have a quick conversation and we’ll be Zooming in real world practitioners,” Soltis said. “CEOs down to C-suite executives will comment on real time cases that they’ve experienced in writing.”
Soltis was asked to create a class on business writing, as a response to student requests and the implementation of similar classes in other schools — including Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Along with virtual mentors, Soltis said real professionals will come into the classroom to help workshop with the students.
Some of these ten new classes — including Writing for Impact and Influence and Media & Entertainment Business — still have seats available for enrollment.