Learning from high-impact events

How Carlson School faculty members have integrated real-time and real-world supply chain examples into their courses

It’s no secret that supply chains have been tested during the last several years. From COVID-19 to extreme weather and stuck ships in the Suez Canal to the outbreak of war, high-impact events have stressed supply chains. As a result, supply chain management skills are in-demand today more than ever before.

“Supply chain management is one of five tangible business skills that matter most post COVID–19.” - McKinsey & Company

The Carlson School's MS in Supply Chain Management program—in partnership with business and industry leaders—has taken the learnings from high-impact supply chain events and integrated them into our courses. 

How do we do that? A few of our faculty members explain.

Managing Supply Chain Operations
(SCO 6285, 4 credits, core course)

Susan Goldstein
Susan Meyer-Goldstein Associate Professor

Taught by Associate Professor Susan Meyer-Goldstein

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a host of supply chain issues and students examine these, in detail, as part of this core course. A mini capstone group project focuses on COVID-19's impact on various areas. Allowing students to apply learnings from the entire semester, the groups choose their topic of interest from a list of more than 10 issues or self-select an issue focused on another high-impact supply chain event. A sampling of recent topics include:

  • What impacts, issues, opportunities related to COVID-19 have arisen in pharmaceuticals, food/agri-business, medical and medical devices, manufacturing, or retail?
  • What changes in reshoring, on-shoring, off-shoring, and in-sourcing have resulted from COVID-19?
  • What are potential policy changes (buy American, tariffs, strategic vulnerabilities, trade, reshoring) and their implications to global supply chains as a result of COVID-19?
  • The new lean thinking post-COVID-19: What is the right amount of lean? Can supply chains be too lean?


Strategic Sourcing
(SCO 6045, 2 credits, core course)

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Anant Mishra
Associate Professor

Taught by Associate Professor Anant Mishra

Sourcing managers play an important role designing a supply chain that supports business objectives now and in the future. Through guest lectures from business leaders discussing supply chain events they’re facing at that moment, students learn about real-world, real-time, innovative ways in which these professionals are navigating challenges. Some of the key themes in the course include:

  • The important strategic decision to make or buy a product and its alignment with a firm’s business strategy.
  • The nature of relationships with suppliers—from integrated to arms-length—and how they matter in times of crisis.
  • The increasing emphasis, highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, on total cost of ownership—moving from a price focus to include strategic elements such as service, inventory, transportation, risk, reputation, etc.
  • The challenge of supplier management—from giving feedback, to supplier development, to how to be important to your suppliers.


Logistics and Transportation
(SCO 6048, 2 credits, core course)

Karen Donohue
Karen Donohue
Professor and Curtis L. Carlson Chair in Supply Chain, MS SCM Academic Director

Taught by Professor Karen Donohue

Many of the supply chain challenges we have witnessed in the pandemic and beyond directly impact first, middle, and last-mile logistics. The course makes sense of these developments and enables students to form solutions going forward. For example:

  • How significant volatility in pricing and capacity of shipping options (e.g., air vs. ship vs. truck) changes the choice of shipping mode and potential benefit of a shipper (such as Amazon) to own more of this capacity themselves.  
  • How government policies designed to help relieve congestion at ports (such as moving to 24-hour service) may have limited benefits if not implemented in coordination with other elements of the logistics supply chain.   
  • Students explore effective management of these issues, which requires taking an end-to-end view of the logistics and transportation network to understand how changes in one link impact others.


Supply Chain Management in the Health Care & Medical Devices Sector
(SCO 6096, 2 credits, elective)

Kingshuk Sinha
Kingshuk (KK) Sinha Professor, Department Chair and Elmer L. Andersen Chair in Sustainable Supply Chain

Taught by Professor Kingshuk (KK) Sinha

The focus of this course is on designing and sustaining reliable, responsive, resilient, and responsible supply chains to enable the delivery of high-quality and affordable physical and mental health care equitably in both developed and developing countries.

Monitoring closely the developments related to COVID-19 at the local, state, national and global levels, the course addresses topics related to:

  • The design and sustenance of the pandemic care supply chain.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on traditional healthcare supply chains.  
  • The roles and interdependencies between the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Learn more about these courses and the MS in Supply Chain Management curriculum