Roddick opens business school

Anita Roddick, chief executive of The Body Shop, is challenging business schools by calling for management education to encompass social justice, human rights and spirituality as well as finance and marketing.

At yesterday's formal launch of the New Academy of Business, the outspoken founder of the cosmetics group said she hoped the establishment would have a practical effect on the ways in which companies, public-sector bodies and other organisations acted. "If all management education does is stimulate lofty thinking, it will have failed," she said.

Since being set up last year, the academy has begun several initiatives aimed at encouraging business leaders to go "beyond the financial bottom line and incorporate a sense of moral purpose". It has set up a network of organisations including BT, Anglian Water, the US-based electronics company Hewlett-Packard and the advertising agency St Lukes to work together to develop best practice for "socially responsible businesses".

The academy announced yesterday it was joining forces with Bath University's management school to run a masters degree in responsibility and business practice. The two-year, part-time course will run from next March, and it is hoped that about 20 people representing small and large companies, public-sector bodies and other organisations will pay fees of pounds 5,000 a year.

Both Ms Roddick and Judi Marshall, who developed the course with her Bath colleague, Peter Reason, insisted the approach would be centred round the exchange of information and insights and the debating of ideas rather than tuition.

The development comes asbodies such as the Tomorrow's Company project are looking at new models for business. David Mathew, the academy's director, said the organisation would complement existing ventures.

Ms Roddick said: "I have a vision of the New Academy of Business being a research incubator of best practices in socially and environmentally responsible business. Business leaders require an enlarged vocabulary to deal with these issues."

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