In an interview with Joe Carter at the Acton Institute's Power Blog, Andrew Abela, dean of The Catholic University of America's new School of Business and Economics talks about CUA's model for business education, based upon Catholic social doctrine and the natural law. Below is an excerpt from the interview.
Why is it so rare for Catholic colleges and universities to take a “distinctively Catholic” approach on subjects like business and economics?
I think there are several possible reasons for this. First, the business and economics education at many Catholic universities tends to mirror that of non-religious universities in that it focuses on knowledge, not on will. But this is not enough. We have to cultivate our students in virtue, which needs the formation of both the intellect and the will. It’s not enough for students to know the good, they have to do the good, and even to love the good. Second, as you know much of higher education suffers from political correctness, and faculty are thus reluctant to commit to any one approach to ethics. Students end up being taught several (frequently conflicting) theories of ethics, with the result that they graduate as sophisticated relativists. Finally, faculty are committed to existing business and economics theories, and it is hard to reconcile these theories, which claim to be morally neutral, with the Catholic intellectual tradition, which holds that all human action has a moral dimension.
The model for your new program is based on Catholic social doctrine and the natural law. Can you give an example of how that might be different from what is generally taught in business schools?
The most obvious difference is in our treatment of ethics. Typically, schools teach business ethics as a separate subject, or – at the very best – they try to add a class or two on ethics into every course. The problem with this approach is that it emphasizes the separation between “business” and “ethics” that is already enshrined in conventional business and economics theory. Our approach is to integrate ethics into everything we teach, so that students realize that ethics is not something that should be added on to business activity, but it is a way of doing everything you do. Our graduate program in business, the Master of Science in Business Analysis, does not even include a course in business ethics, because the ethical dimension is integrated into all its courses.
To read the interview in its entirety, visit the Power Blog.
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