Course meeting times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 90 minutes / session


No prerequisites

Course Description

15.270 Ethical Practice: Leading Through Professionalism, Social Responsibility, and System Design introduces seminar participants to aspects of ethics in business, with a focus on general management. Over 13 sessions, students explore both the philosophy driving business ethics and the daily challenges that managers face; they also engage on the subject with guest faculty and business and other professional practitioners. Individual sessions take the form of moderated discussion, with occasional short lectures from the instructor.

“Ethical Practice” walks participants through three ever-wider circles of ethical complexity:

  1. Individual, professional commitments
  2. The rights and responsibilities of corporations
  3. The social, ethical underpinnings of business as an activity. We seek to define terms central to each of these circles, culminating in a brief historical assessment of business and capital in the early twenty-first century.

Course Requirements

Students will be graded on the following

Participation in class discussions 40%
The writing of three team papers 30%
A final, individual paper in which students reflect on the evolution of their views during the half-semester 30%

Course Outline and Key Dates

Course Introduction
1 Wealth, values, and human nature  
Personal and Professional Practice
2 The reality  
3 A question of character  
4 Commitments  
5 Reports from the field: Professional panel discussion  
Corporate Social Responsibility
6 Definitions and strategies Team paper 1 due
7 Clash of values Team Paper 2 due
8 Constructing the global marketplace  
9 Corporate culture and individual responsibility Team Paper 3 due
The Purpose of a Corporation
10 Beginnings  
11 A new corporate life?  
12 A critique of capital  
13 Next steps Final paper due

Writing Assignments

Students will submit:

  1. Three team essays: In all three cases, the topic will correlate with the subject of one of our classes.
  2. Individual writing assignment: The three team papers will serve as the springboard for your final, longer paper. This assignment represents 30% of your grade.

For details, see the Assignments section.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2016
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments
Instructor Insights