Making A Difference

The Challenges and Rewards of Teaching by the Case Method

Susan Harmeling (MBA 1991)

Susan Harmeling (MBA 1991) is founder and president of the International Case Method Institute, a consulting firm whose mission is to develop international business curricula based on the case study method of instruction. She is also an associate professor at Howard University School of Business. In this interview, she describes the value of using the case method in business education.

“I’m a professor of entrepreneurship at Howard University, and I teach entrepreneurship by the case method. And so, of course, HBS has helped me immensely in the position that I have now, in that I teach my undergraduate students exactly as I learned in the MBA Program. I have found it to be a very rewarding experience and that the students really take to the case method in a way they don’t, so much, to traditional lectures.

“What I learned as an MBA student about the case method is that there is no substitute for the face-to-face learning that goes on between professors and participants, between participants, among participants, with each other.

“I also have a consulting business called the International Case Method Institute teaching cases and seminars, and different events, and also teaching other faculty how to teach by the case method.

“I’ve recently started working as a facilitator at Harvard Business School Publishing to teach faculty from all over the world about how we use the case method in the Harvard Business School way. I’ve met lots of faculty who now have an appreciation for just how difficult the case method is, but how rewarding and challenging it is for the students in the classroom.”

(Published January 2017)

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