Professors teaching courses in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, and sustainability will find many opportunities for using Business Ethics Highlights in their classrooms.
Here are just a few suggestions for doing that.
1) Use a recent BEH item as an “ice breaker” for start-of-class discussion. BEH provides a ready source of recent, familiar news stories to start class discussion. Even if you’re planning to spend the class teaching a particular topic, or lecturing on a specific textbook chapter, starting the class off with discussion of something in the news can be a great way to ease students into the right frame of mind. You can do this with or without assigning BEH as “homework” reading for each class. You may want students to come prepared to discuss a recent BEH item, or you may want to choose one yourself and spring it on them “cold.”
2) Use BEH as a source of essay topics. The case books many instructors rely on tend to include cases that, for obvious reasons, are years old. Some books include cases that, while interesting, literally occurred before your students were born. BEH provides cases — real cases — that are happening right now. Each item we publish comes with a few sentences of editorial commentary, which is hopefully enough to spur reflection without giving students a full-fledged analysis and making essay writing too easy. Note also that by relying on the very recent topics found in BEH, instructors may find that they can reduce the incidence of plagiarism. If you assign the Ford Pinto case (from the 70s!), your students will find a huge amount of online commentary and even entire essays, tempting them into cut-and-paste academic integrity violations. Why not assign a more recent case that won’t be so easy to plagiarize?
3) Let students search BEH for topics for group presentations. Again, as noted above, BEH provides recent cases, ones students can related to. Many of them point to companies in the midst of ongoing crises. Have your students form teams — teams of “consultants” — and ask them to prepare presentations on how they believe the company involved should resolve the situation.
4) Bring BEH items to class as fodder for in-class small-group discussion. BEH provides a steady stream of recent stories on a wide range of sub-topics. If today’s class is on environmental sustainability, a quick search of BEH will almost certainly turn up a recent story related to that. If the topic is ethics in finance, BEH is sure to have something recent. And so on. Use BEH items as fodder for small-group discussion toward the end of class to allow students to discuss how the day’s lecture applies to a recent, relevant business story.
5) Assigned BEH at the start of term, as background reading. Asking students to scroll back through the most recent weeks’ postings is one way to demonstrate to students new to the topic just how broad the topics of business ethics and social responsibility really are. Many students show up for the first day of class with misconceptions about the topic, and sometimes with a shockingly narrow view of the range of issues it covers. Having them read a dozen recent stories on BEH will quickly remedy that.
But of course, BEH isn’t useful only to instructors teaching entire courses on business ethics, corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, or sustainability. Instructors of other kinds of business courses who want to insert bits of discussion on those topics will find BEH useful, too. With hundreds of items posted since March of 2015, instructors will find articles (and commentary) relevant to courses in Finance, Marketing, Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Human Resources, and Business Law.
We would value your suggestions for other ways to use Business Ethics Highlights in the classroom, and your feedback on how you’ve already done so. Feel free to post them in the comment section below.