Harvard Business School is changing: if a radical overhaul of the MBA curriculum succeeds, learning by doing will become the norm. The students are now required to go out of the classroom and put professors’ case studies into practice. They may also work in a developing country and launch a start-up company. This new practical training is known as “FIELD” (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development).

Apart from providing students with summer internships, HBS did not do so much to help them with the practical application of management studies in the past.

FIELD was announced by HBS in January 2011 and is a required first-year course that spans a full academic year. The course focuses on developing small-group learning experiences that are immersive, field-based and action-oriented.

FIELD is characterised by three elements. First, students are involved in team-building exercises, which means that they take turns to lead a group engaged in a project. Second, they will be sent to work for a week with one of more than 140 firms in 11 countries. Finally, the third part of the new programme consists of giving the students eight weeks and seed money of $3,000 each to launch a small company. The most successful, as voted by their fellow students, will get more funding.