“My first question when I went to the school was, ‘What do I do for my future?'” says John Stemberger, a business ethics professor at Columbia Business School.
“It’s very clear that there’s a lot of value in learning about ethics and about what ethics are.
The problem is that the curriculum is structured as a set of six modules, with two of them covering the core ethical concepts, and one covering the broader issues of ethical practice.”
Stemberg says students have to be well-prepared for the coursework, but that they also need to be willing to tackle any challenges.
For example, he says, they might want to spend more time on how to navigate conflicts of interest.
“They’re not going to be able to do that in a day or two,” he says.
“The first thing you need to do is prepare yourself, be ready to confront all the issues that you’re going to encounter.”
Stenderg says that if students don’t have the time and training to tackle these issues, they’ll be left with little more than a framework to navigate ethical dilemmas.
But Stembergs’ concern is that if you don’t get enough time to develop your skills, your students won’t be ready for the challenge of becoming more ethical.
The school’s “Evaluate and Assess” course is designed to provide students with practical, hands-on experience in ethical issues.
In fact, it’s designed to help students develop a personal ethics framework for how they’ll interact with others.
And in its first year, the school says the course has been a huge success, with more than 600 students participating.
“I think that there are a lot more people who are getting into ethical thinking, and we’re really seeing it in the workplace,” Stendergs says.
The success of the course, he adds, is a sign that “the ethical culture is starting to emerge in the marketplace.”
But while the curriculum itself is aimed at helping students learn ethical issues, it also provides students with a framework that will help them navigate ethical situations.
“We’ve been really impressed by the students that are taking it,” Stembergers says.
Stenderges says that one of the things that he’s most proud of about the course is that students who took it in their first year were able to explore all the ethical issues that they were confronted with.
“These students are very good at being aware of what they’re doing and what they want to be doing, and then trying to navigate that,” he adds.
And while he says that students need to feel comfortable taking the course if they want it to help them, Stendergers says that most students have taken the course in the past, and it doesn’t make much difference whether they took it before or after their first semester.
Stemberges says the key is to get students to take the course “because the ethical problem is not the only thing that they’re confronted with.”
“It doesn’t mean that they have to become a member of that club, that they can become a leader of that organization, or that they must agree with their principles,” he explains.
“But it’s important for them to be aware of their own potential.”