Olsson Center for Applied Ethics

Teaching Ethics at Darden

First Year Ethics 

"First Year Ethics" is a required, graded course in Darden's First Year MBA curriculum. It was one of the first such courses offered by a major graduate business school. The course fosters reasoning about the role of ethics in business in a complex, dynamic and global environment. Key frameworks and concepts of moral reasoning include the morality of the marketplace, the social contract, stakeholder analysis, harms and benefits analysis, rights and duties analysis, principles and rules, the process of reflective equilibrium and moral and institutional leadership. 

"Workshop on Creative Capitalism" examines the process of value creation for multiple stakeholders and focuses on the creation of business models that are targeted at "making a difference" — i.e., combining traditional value for financiers with a broader concept of value to stakeholders.

Second Year Electives 

"Business Ethics Through Literature" is a Second Year elective that addresses the definition of success in business, race, gender, the role of culture, the privileged place of the executive and new understandings or models of human beings. The course is taught socratically with fiction, both novels and short stories, as case studies.

"Leadership, Values and Ethics" is a Second Year elective that examines conceptions of leadership where values and ethics play a central role. Specifically, the course provides students with examples and models of ways that leaders have incorporated ethics and values into many definitions of leadership. It requires students to reflect on their own values and ethics and to examine the importance of them to their own definition of leadership. The course pays attention to the design of organizational structures and processes that are based on values, and how leading by values can be understood at all levels of the organization. 

"Faith, Religion and Responsible Management Decision Making" is an exploration of what it means to be a person of faith and how to connect business and religion. Living well encompasses all aspects of our lives, but the particular focus of our conversations is how business is part of that quest. The more specific focus of the course is on the connections between the quest to live a life of integrity, which is often grounded in our deepest beliefs about faith and religion, and our desire to succeed in the marketplace. 

"Leadership & Theater: Ethics, Innovation and Creativity" builds leadership skills and ethical analysis skills through reading, discussing and performing dramatic scenes from plays. The course is built around the concept that the theater director’s task is akin to that of the CEO. It examines how directors draw vision from particulars, emphasize good casting, get the best out of their teams and approach work collaboratively. Visit the Leadership & Theater website and watch the documentary about the course.

"Foundations of Ethics and Economics Seminar" covers some of the moral foundations of ethics and economics and includes a study of various philosophers such as Adam Smith, Marx and John Stuart Mill, who deliberately use a moral framework or moral presuppositions to develop a theory of ethics, idea of political economy and/or economic justice.

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