What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Food in the World

Sustainability goes hand in hand with food and energy.

Many if not all multinational companies have their own think-tank or foundation to “discuss” the issue of sustainability. Especially with food or energy, many efforts are made, at least they are communicated. A lot of it has to do with marketing, but it is admirable that attention is being paid. But what are the effects? For example, after all food is a regional, very local, matter: Can we find out the result and effectiveness of these initiatives for the company and for society? And for which society, I mean, where?

What should a company really do to contribute and to increase its value?

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What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Let's fix the public school system in New York City

For those of us working in New York and raising young families, the sad state of the public school system is clear. While we can send our kids to private schools and look the other way, it seems like some entrepreneurial thinking is in order. Is the charter school movement the answer, or something else?

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What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Occupy Wall Street - Discussion of the 1 percent

Is the business community generally, and Wharton specifically, really going to let the debate on the economy be framed as class warfare? Many of us in the 1 percent are appalled at current economic policies. Virtually every elected official on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. is speaking gibberish about the economy. Issues of how we finance government and the role of tax policy in the economy are critical to our collective prosperity. We can take a leadership role in discussing these issues rationally without resorting to the hyperbole we're seeing in the media and among politicians.

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What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Business Education

Despite some reforms to the curricula of leading business schools, it's pretty much same-old, same-old. We know that Mckinsey delivers a "mini MBA" to it's consultants without business education in about 6 weeks. We also know that executive MBA students can learn effectively the MBA curriculum at Wharton with a part-time investment of about 20 hours per week. So, are we missing an opportunity with the full-time MBA program to either dramatically increase its efficiency or to enhance its benefits?

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What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Historical Perspective on the Long View

Arguably the most pressing societal challenge today is the threat to the natural environment. Humans have been on the planet for a blink of the eye, and we aren't likely to last much longer at the rate we are destroying our ecosystems and consuming our resources. Here's the question: Is there any historical precedent for a society marshalling the will to take actions that will hurt the current generation but benefit future generations? I'm not optimistic...but I'd be very interested in some historical perspective.

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What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Endowments in Non-Profits and Higher Education

An alien observing human life from afar might be puzzled by these weird financial institutions called "universities" that have inexplicable educational operations attached to them. What does it mean that Penn and the other Ivies amass huge fortunes and spend only 4 percent of them each year. One explanation is that they need big reserves to buffer business cycles. That might explain a billion or so. But, why do they need 10s of Billions. Doesn't hoarding cash imply that the institutions can not productively invest that cash? Stakeholders would take a very hard view on a company that hoarded so much cash and did not invest it productively. It is time for some clear economic reasoning to be applied to philanthropic capital and the financing of higher education.

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What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Wharton on Healthcare

Healthcare costs are pretty much going to bankrupt the U.S. economy if they stay on their current trajectory. Wharton alumni could take a non-partisan, business-oriented approach to this challenge. At least it would be interesting to get the discussion going among alumni and to have some of our experts on health economics weigh in with the relevant facts.

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What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Pension/Retirement strategies for mature markets

What might we develop as strategies for countries facing challenges around aging populations and poorly funded retirements/pensions? What can the combination of academic excellence at Wharton combined with the market expertise of alumni do to move the needle on this significant global issue?

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What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Education and Poverty

What can we, as well educated executives, do to help those young people growing up in poverty to get out of the cycle of poverty? My wife and I recently spent 7 years mentoring a young African American woman in the inner city of Dallas. We are thrilled that she is the first in her family to graduate from high school but she is not prepared for college. Our mentor relationship was not enough.

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What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

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Financial Literacy

Is it too utopian to suggest there's merit in a business plan or a non-profit pursuing a good housekeeping seal of approval-like business for consumer-oriented finance vendors (banks, credit cards, mortgages, etc). The seal being an indication that finance products are clear and easy to understand.

 

Second idea - can we create a nation wide financial literacy volunteer program? Occupy Wall Street has highlighted some of the gaps in understanding of basic tenets of finance? i.e., How a loan works, What is a loan, Why a budget is important

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