Enhancing Business Education: Bringing Ethics and Excellence to Classroom

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Business curriculum rarely provides any permeating and systematic model to garner a high sense of purpose or values or to nurture emotional intelligence. Our current traditional-aged students, the Millennials, want more from their life than money. They want meaning, purpose, something they can bet their lives on. We cannot afford to leave character to chance. Our vision is to educate the whole person, to teach our youth for life. This concept paper proposes a curriculum that brings together mind and heart-excellence and ethics-in the classroom. In planning for the development of this curriculum, the author has consulted diverse theoretical guides and constructs such as the works of Maslow, Herzberg, McClelland, Ellis, and Patengale; Frankl, Covey, Palmer, and Senge; Gardener, Ray, Seligman, and Csikszentmihalyi; Mayer, Salovey, Cooper, and Goleman; Copperrider, DePree, and Burns; as well as the life-work of Gandhi, Mandela, Teresa, King, Parks, and Greenleaf. From these authors and works we believe we have achieved a synthesis of the disparate fields of Emotional Intelligence, Multiple Intelligence, Optimal Performance, Authentic, Transformational Leadership, Appreciative Inquiry, Cognitive Psychology, Moral Philosophy, and Wisdom Traditions of the world. Such a thorough and holistic approach is unique in business education.

Enhancing Business Education: Bringing Ethics and Excellence to Classroom1

A disturbing mismatch exists between what the modern society need of higher education and what it receives, according to the Higher Expectations Study (1993). A knowledge-based, globally interconnected society requires more than workplace competence. It requires individuals whose lives demonstrate the value of integrity, diversity, compassion, and personal responsibility. In short, in addition to competence, it requires character. Recent international events and corporate scandals provide an ample testimony that we cannot afford to leave character to chance.

Is higher education at fault? Too often our curricula teaches professional skills and then teaches professional ethics, thereby suggesting that the ethical dimension is understood only in the context of the job one will hold. By making ethics seem a subcategory of a discipline, the importance of character becomes a subset of one's discipline.

We believe that the problem goes deeper. Postsecondary education faces twin problems of weakening ethics and declining graduation rates. We believe that these problems are connected. Greater Expectations (2002) argues that universities often focus on moving students through the system but fail to motivate them to be the architects of their own success. We believe that a curriculum that teaches techniques of active learning without touching the force that activates the acquisition of knowledge, the yearning for learning, fails to give students a stake in their learning. The failure to unlock a student's desire for the acquisition and construction of knowledge leads to low motivation-persistence and to a misalignment of activity and interest that is both the condition for poor ethical behavior and its cause.

Whether described in the works of Plato, Sartre, Krishnamurti, Confucius, Gandhi, or Weil, responsible action requires the alignment of attitude, behavior, and cognition. These are the same ABCs (Attitude, Behavior, and Cognition) that Greater Expectations (2002) seeks to align to create informed, intentional, empowered, and responsible learners.

We propose a curriculum that fuses personal and professional development and addresses the dual problems of ethics and persistence. Actively and directly working to shape the characterological elements that students bring to the university departs from standard curricular practice. It does, however, follow the revolution in teaching-learning that helped students understand how they learn and how they build skills so that they might become lifelong learners. …