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Faculty and Students Integrate Business Ethics into Capstone Experience

BUS 495: Business Policy is the integrative, team taught capstone course for Haub School of Business students. As the culminating experience of senior year, students apply their previous coursework across disciplines—marketing, accounting, management, finance, and business intelligence and analytics—into the strategic analysis of a publicly held company. Working in teams of 5, students evaluate, formulate, and make recommendations for implementing effective corporate strategy in a global environment. At the conclusion of the fall and spring terms, 63 teams compete within and across 9 sections of the course. A much heralded and well-attended public competition with industry judges produces the winning team. BUS 495 is a transformational learning and professional development experience that well prepares graduating seniors for success in the world of business.

Along with its students, BUS 495 has undergone its own transformation in recent years. Course faculty have integrated business ethics into the interdisciplinary mix of considerations involving corporate strategy. Arrupe Fellow Dr. Steve Porth, Associate Dean of the Haub School and founder of the course, comments: “The drive for change is coming from both the business policy faculty and students. As two-thirds of faculty have received Arrupe Center Fellowships, we are seeing a demonstrable effect of more substantive and deliberate applications of business ethics in BUS 495 and throughout the whole of the curriculum. Students are positively responding by taking their own initiative to enliven business ethics in their coursework.”

Neill Crowley, Adjunct Instructor of Food Marketing, is one of those BUS 495 faculty fusing business ethics into the course via marketing.  Crowley lectures on fundamental philosophical approaches to ethics including Freidman, Kantian, and Rights approaches.  Crowley reflects: “I am impressed by the students’ abilities to understand this foundational material and apply it directly to their projects. They are now more thoughtfully considering impacts of strategy on a wide range of stakeholders and in terms of environmental sustainability.”

Ryan Fox ’14 (LEO/Marketing) and his BUS 495 team from Fall 2013 exemplify how students passionately and rigorously integrate business ethics into their corporate strategy projects: “We chose the designer Michael Kors for our project. In formulating and recommending our strategy to grow market share for the company, it became apparent that we needed to consider the overarching ethical issues in the clothing business. Because Michael Kors outsources the majority of its manufacturing to countries where textile sweatshops abound, we wanted to ensure that our strategy upheld workers’ rights and mitigated exploitation in the company’s global supply chain.” Fox’s professor, Arrupe Fellow Dr. George Sillup, Associate Professor and Chair of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing Department, remarks: “In all of my sections of the course, I am impressed by the students’ sensitivity to and understanding of complex ethical challenges to business. Moreover, they are becoming very skilled at formulating growth strategies that balance demands for social justice, environmental sustainability, and corporate financial performance. With this triple bottom-line mindset developed at Saint Joseph’s, our graduating students are well prepared to make a meaningful difference in the conduct and impacts of business. This is something we can all be proud of.”

David Steingard, Associate Director of the Arrupe Center and associate professor of Management, puts in context the significance to the Arrupe Center of business ethics integration into BUS 495: “It is exciting to see support for the Arrupe Center’s mission in the course. BUS 495, in concert with a widespread adoption of business ethics throughout the curriculum, is preparing our students to ‘do well by doing good’ in the business world. The Arrupe Center is honored to play a role in this evolution of the Haub School.”

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