Moral formation at Jesuit business schools

The September issue of Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education features an article titled, "Talking Back: Risks Worth Taking: The Moral Formation of Business Professionals through Jesuit Business Education." In her article, Kathleen McGarvey Hidy, professor at Xavier University, begins by noting that the "moral formation of business professionals in business education can no longer be ignored. Recent history records the devastating economic and societal consequences wrought by unethical behavior perpetrated by and through the activities of business." How does the need for moral formation connect with Jesuit business schools?

Whether Jesuit business school education should undertake the moral formation of its students invites educators to consider two fundamental questions. Is the moral formation of its business students central to a Jesuit business school’s mission? If so, how can this moral formation be achieved?
Every Jesuit business school must answer the first question affirmatively – yes, the moral formation of its students is central to its mission. To ignore this question or, worse, to see character-building and ethical training as beyond the province of a Jesuit business school renders the mission statements of the Jesuit universities and their business schools as meaningless words or slogans used on brochures or plaques or even syllabi to create an image or impression of a brand – the Jesuit legacy – without an authentic institutional commitment and plan to deliver on that mission statement.

What does the hoped-for moral education look like? See here for the rest of Professor Hidy's article.  


Correction, Oct. 17, 2015: An earlier version of this blog misspelled the name of Prof. Kathleen McGarvey Hidy.

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Joseph J Dunn
2 years 4 months ago
“What does the hoped-for moral education look like?” William Byron, S.J., explains in his book about business ethics, "The Power of Principles", “The necessary ethical principles cannot be learned without first observing them in the lives of others. Improvement in the ethical environment of corporate America will happen if newcomers and tested veterans get close enough together for the values of the elders to be caught by those who are inexperienced but willing to learn.” Fr. Byron’s book contains many real stories of ethical behavior in business, even in large corporations, and many business professors point to examples from their own experience or research. At many universities, business and economics majors also complete courses in history, theology and other humanistic subjects. And many liberal arts grads get jobs in the business and financial sectors with little or no business education. Those humanities courses can contribute to the student’s formation as an ethical businessperson, if professors in these disciplines provide positive examples of the role that businesses have played in raising the condition of workers, or reducing poverty around the world. Do their lectures build on the words of Pope Francis, “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity…” (Laudato Si, 129)? Or is it possible that these courses, for lack of the ‘values of the elders’ content that Fr. Byron suggests, leave students thinking that “unethical and even illegal behavior is a passport to climbing the corporate ladder” and acquiescing to a “culture of fear that intimidates into silence those who witness corporate malfeasance,” as the researchers in Dr. Hidy’s article found, before they even have their first job? What’s in your lesson plan?


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