Monash Business School academics receive global teaching prize

L-R: Associate Professor Nicholas McGuigan and Dr Alessandro Ghio

16 December 2019

Two Monash Business School Department of Accounting academics have been awarded a prestigious international award for their course which asked students to investigate Australia's refugee policy as part of their accounting studies.

The US-based Aspen Institute has honoured Associate Professor Nicholas McGuigan and Dr Alessandro Ghio with the 2019 'Ideas Worth Teaching' Award, presented to just 10 courses throughout the world.

The award, provided through the Aspen Institute's Business and Society Program, honours educators and universities which are redefining business education by providing learning experiences that equip managers of tomorrow with the context, skills and decision-making capabilities needed to lead in an increasingly complex business environment.

The Aspen Institute is a global non-profit organisation founded in 1949 which is committed to realising a free, just, and equitable society.

Associate Professor McGuigan and Dr Ghio's award-winning course, 'Global issues in Accounting' aims to 'widen the lens on traditionally technical disciplines' in a bid to help future business professionals develop their critical thinking skills and develop broader knowledge outside of learning narrowly-based accounting skills.

One of the assignments was to study Australia's evolving refugee policy and its offshore detention regime, applying accounting principles to its financial management and reporting back using a framework of corporate/social responsibility.

Associate Professor McGuigan said the course was designed to "expose the deeply interconnected nature of business and society, even when it comes to activities such as financial reporting".

"The idea that accounting is simply manipulating numbers is obsolete. The work of accountants is much more than that and so the ability to understand how the business case affects the social outcome is critical," he says.

"We're also delighted that our work is recognised alongside such well-regarded business schools as Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management and Columbia Business School."

Dr Ghio says it is exciting to challenge students’ visions of accounting.

"Accounting is not a neutral practice – this course is designed to allow students’ the opportunity to critically review their own learning journey, discovering accounting as a form of reality construction, accounting as an ideology, and accounting as a language,” he says.

"Before graduating, we believe in the need to reflect on the role of accountants in today’s society. But we need to have a bit of fun. Creative activities such as unboxing videos and Instagram stories on what an accountant should or will do facilitate students’ critical reflections by connecting to their everyday."