Business school, ethics and social responsibility

minimal-desktop-wallpaper-be-goodI want to attend a business school that prioritizes ethics and social responsibility. I knew this was true even before I decided to apply to bschool, really, but now that I’m in the thick of the process, its importance is only increasing. As I start thinking about the possibility of working with large sums of money and pondering marketing segmentation and managerial decision making, the social implications just keep screaming out at me. I want to know that the school I attend and the institution/entity/student body I associate myself with is one of integrity. I  want it to be a given that we’re not functioning in a vacuum and that the decisions we make for our own lives and careers have an affect on the rest of the world, and we need to take responsibility. And I don’t want this just for my education and my future career–I also want to know that whatever school I end up contributing to and supporting is ultimately doing good work and producing grads with nuanced understanding of social issues as it pertains to business. This is probably a crazy high hope, but I have it anyway.

One of the questions I asked at every school’s info session I attended was, “Is some kind of business ethics course mandatory for all students?” Some of the schools I’m applying to said “Yes” to this question, and those that said no sank a bit in my personal ranking list.

Of the schools I’m applying to, the following require all students to complete a business ethics/social responsibility course:

  • Stanford GSB: Ethics in Management (there’s also this)
  • Berkeley Haas: Ethics and Responsibility in Business
  • Yale SOM: It seems like every course at Yale includes the discussion of ethics and social responsibility due to its integrated curriculum. The fact that their website dares to ask, “As a business leader, how should you address severe societal inequities?” is more than enough for me.

These schools do not include an ethics course in their core curriculum, but do offer ethics courses as electives:

  • Northwestern Kellogg: Ethics and Executive Leadership
  • UCLA Anderson: Leadership and Ethics
  • Cornell Johnson: A Leadership & Ethics breadth concentration. The link on their website to their course descriptions is broken, but I hope I can safely assume that a Leadership & Ethics concentration involves the completion of at least one course in ethics.

Not too much:

  • USC Marshall: They do have 2-3 classes that mention ethics in the course description, but that was just a single component of a general management/leadership course. I’m only counting courses that are fully devoted to discussing ethics and their relevance to business here.

The overall breakdown isn’t too surprising just from the schools’ reputations. It’s also not too surprising that Stanford, Berkeley and Yale are currently at the top of my wish list.


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