February 23, 2012
I am happy to report that the Daniels Fund has renewed its support for the College of Business Ethics Initiative. This will be the third year of our grant program designed to help our students develop strong principle based ethical decision making skills.
One key goal of this initiative is to enhance ethics education in our curriculum through support of specific faculty endeavors. The Bill Daniels Fellowships are awarded to those who demonstrate excellence in teaching activities related to principle based ethics. Each fellow is taking a different approach to accomplish this goal.
This month, I'm highlighting the work of Dr. Cathy Claiborne, Associate Professor of Accounting, who told this story about initial success with her grant:
In the fall, we launched an Accounting Ethics course. Students studied various codes of conduct in the accounting profession and practiced application of those codes. Utilizing the Giving Voice to Values framework, students looked at several ethical dilemmas they will likely face during their accounting careers. They evaluated and reflected on the dilemmas to determine their individual responses. Finally, they practiced voicing that response.
Debates were especially interesting, fun, and challenging. Students were randomly assigned to groups, and I would have each group draw a debate topic "from the pot". Along with the topic, the groups were assigned which side of the debate they would support. This required students to study and listen to opinions that they may or may not agree with. One student from the team required to debate that capitalism is unethical pleaded for the option to redraw for a different topic or get reassigned to a different group because this perspective went against all of his core beliefs. I insisted he stay with the group and debate the issue his group had drawn. In response, he took the role of group leader, studying and defending the assigned perspective. The group easily won the debate.
At the end of the semester, the student thanked me for the debate opportunity. He said that although he did not change his opinion, he now understood the validity of the opposite perspective and the need to listen to that perspective.
Three more Bill Daniels Fellows have in-progress projects that are helping us meet the goals of the Ethics Initiative, and we are looking forward to seeing the results of their work in the next year.
Cathy's story is a great example of how we want our students to think and learn. Not just to learn the technical skills to succeed in their chosen discipline, but to develop critical thinking skills and soft skills that will make them creative, ethical, productive team members in the work force. I look forward to engaging you in helping move our Ethics Initiative forward as we work hard to differentiate our business students from others by equipping them with principle based ethical decision making skills they can use to be successful -- no matter what career they choose.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-255-3113.
Venkat Reddy, PhD