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 Mixing Business with Ethics

The first free, unlimited-enrollment massive open online course (MOOC) offered by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University will start Nov. 4.

Business Ethics in the Real World,” will offer practical advice on confronting unethical situations in the workplace—from white lies on resumes and manager pressure to falsify reports, to bosses accepting bribes or questionable company actions against industry competitors. The course is designed for everyone from a new business student to a seasoned chief executive.

Registration is now open for the course, which spans four weeks but may be taken anytime within a four-month window starting Nov. 4, 2013 until  Feb. 28, 2014. Two additional MOOCs are scheduled to start in early January and March 2014.

There will be no limit to the number of students who may sign up. The course includes a series of video lectures, discussions of real world ethical dilemmas, and opportunities to interact with the instructor and classmates from around the globe.

Last winter, a pilot course, capped at 500 students filled up in just six weeks, with participants from 25 different countries and six continents. The course is in demand for many reasons, said Kirk O. Hanson, the course instructor and executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Company executives increasingly are asking questions about corporate behavior and ethical character and are being examined closely when they engage business partners who may not act ethically or outsource to local cultures where corruption is common.

“Every professional in business asks herself or himself difficult questions about ‘what am I willing to do to meet my business goals, and what am I willing to tolerate in my own company’s behavior?’” Hanson said.

The next two MOOCs will build on the first, addressing more-complex questions regarding creating ethical corporate cultures and operating in international business.

“The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is uniquely positioned to explore such ethical dilemmas, especially given its Silicon Valley location,” Hanson added. “Our mission is to raise awareness about daily ethical issues, and to provide practical tools for managing ethical choices.”

SCU’s pilot MOOC was the first to be offered at a Jesuit university, and since then Marquette, Georgetown, and others have launched MOOCs.

“For people who don’t have ready access to education, who might be homebound or not near a university, MOOCs offer a wonderful opportunity,” says Miriam Schulman, the ethics center’s assistant director. “You have one of the best teachers in the world giving you a free class.”  Hanson has taught business ethics at Santa Clara University for the past 12 years, after 23 years at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

For more information about SCU’s ethics in business MOOCs, visit canvas.net/courses/business-ethics-for-the-real-world-1

 

 

 

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