Tools for Teaching Ethics

On a day (October 15, 2013) when the New York Times is carrying articles on former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s guilty pleas to attacks on women, on an indictment of a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old girl on felony charges in connection with the bullying-caused suicide of another 12-year-old girl, and on possible accounting irregularities at a Xerox division, it is good to know that there are new educational materials available to those who fight the good fight by teaching ethics.

Mary Gentile’s book Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right is the basis for an entire program that I have found very useful to trying to teach my students how to do a better job of living their values.  My primary area of interest in the field of business ethics is behavioral ethics, the discipline that uses principles of cognitive science, behavioral psychology and related fields to study how and why people make the ethical (and unethical) decisions that they do.

Anyone who has spent much time studying behavioral ethics knows that it is relatively straightforward to make the case that it is devilishly difficult for people to lead the ethical lives that most of us would like to lead.  Pointing out the problems is so much easier than showing the way to solutions.  That is why Professor Gentile’s GVV program is such a blessing and it is no wonder that it has been widely used in schools and companies around the world.

I am prompted to blog about GVV because I just finished reading Professor Gentile’s latest book—Educating for Values-Driven Leadership: Giving Voice to Values Across the Curriculum (Business Expert Press, 2013).  The book starts with an excellent essay by Professor Gentile that introduces the GVV program and then contains chapters written by a variety of professors who explicate how they have taught the GVV approach in classrooms educating economists, accountants, human resource professionals, marketers, operations managers, and others.  Other chapters discuss approaches to a GVV-driven curriculum in teaching sustainability and social entrepreneurship.  Two chapters address how to teach GVV in foreign cultures.  One addresses GVV at the Air Force Academy.  You get the idea.  I recommend the book for anyone who, like me, finds the GVV approach helpful in giving students tangible tools to improve their ethical outcomes.

And everyone who appreciates the value of the GVV approach should check out the latest addition to Ethics Unwrapped – the Giving Voice to Values video series.  Mary Gentile herself created the academic content and narrated eight new videos that introduce the GVV program and address each of its seven pillars.

While I’m at it, let me briefly mention that at the annual convention of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business (ALSB) in Boston in August, I had the good fortune to win the “Master Teacher” competition with a lecture on teaching behavioral ethics.  The ALSB’s teaching journal, the Journal of Legal Studies Education, typically invites the winner of the competition to submit an article about their teaching.  I have written an article entitled “Teaching Behavioral Ethics” that will be published in August of 2014 or thereabouts.  To read a preliminary version of that article, just visit the Ethics Unwrapped website.  I don’t think that anyone will actually want to emulate too closely my approach to teaching behavioral ethics.  But the article contains references to lots of resources (articles, books, videos) that might mined by creative teachers who wish to put together their own approach.

I cannot recommend this article too highly.  (Now I’m going to go watch the Ethics Unwrapped videos on conflicts of interest and the self-serving bias.)

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2 Responses to Tools for Teaching Ethics

  1. Jeff Kaplan November 3, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    I thought Prof. Prentice’s paper was excellent – here’s a post about it in the Conflict of Interest Blog. http://conflictofinterestblog.com/?p=3390&preview=true

    • Ethics Unwrapped November 4, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      Thank you so much for your kind words! We enjoy reading your blog very much!

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