BA 354, Managing Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

I am creating a hybrid version of BA 354, Managing Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility.  This course is becoming a college-wide core requirement for all business majors starting Fall term 2017. As such, the course is going to fulfill the writing intensive course requirement for all business majors. This includes majors in accounting, business information systems, finance, general business, management, and marketing. In addition, there are degree options in entrepreneurship, international business, and hospitality management. As the only undergraduate ethics course offered in the College and because of its designation as the sole writing-intensive course in the College, BA 354 is an important part of the College curriculum.

I think that the hybrid format fits particularly well with the course content because ethics and sustainability are topics that are best understood through a combination individual study and self-reflection coupled with in-class discussions. In addition, many of the examples that I use in class have related videos and/or podcasts that do a nice job of explaining the complexity of the ethical or environmental dilemmas. These materials could be viewed online ahead of class and then discussed in depth during the next in-class meeting. This is precisely the model that I am intending to adopt for this hybrid course. Each week students will be assigned one chapter from the textbook to read prior to our face-to-face meeting. In addition, they will be viewing/listening to various videos/podcasts that present current ethical and/or environmental issues that are relevant to the content discussed in the text. Students will also be completing learning journals that have prompts that correspond to each of the online learning activities they will be participating in. The final step in their preparation for our weekly face-to-face meetings will be participating in an online discussion on one of the central themes for the week. Then our face-to-face meeting will be used to integrate all that they have been learning online and will use open-ended questions to engage students in discussions intended to broaden and deepen their thinking about the module’s content.

In terms of learning outcome evaluation, students will be completing a major writing assignment, the Personal Ethical Action Plan, that is turned in at three different points during the term and extensive feedback is provided via Canvas each time they turn it in. The purpose of the assignment is for students to engage in self-analysis and discovery that will allow them to face ethical dilemmas having considered ahead of time how they will respond. The assignment includes several values exploration exercises, analysis of some of the experiences they’ve had to date when their values conflict, establishment of a professional purpose statement, and an assessment of their ability to speak up when their values are challenged. There will also be an essay-based finale examination that hits on the primary learning objectives of the course. Central to this final examination is utilizing a nine-step decision making process to arrive at a course of action when faced with a challenging ethical dilemma.

I have been testing out some of my hybrid modules on my current students and have been using their feedback to make adjustments to the modules so that at least some of the wrinkles will have been ironed out by the time the course goes live in the fall. I look forward to hearing any feedback that you have for improving my course. Thanks.

Ted Paterson, Assistant Professor of Management

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6 Responses to BA 354, Managing Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

  1. Kathy Hadley says:

    I like the way you have integrated online and in-class components with readings, discussion and lecture. I am curious about how to assess a student’s ability to speak up when his/her values are challenged. Is that something you would do online or in class?

    • patersot says:

      Hi Kathy,

      The Personal Ethical Action Plan assignment is meant to be an action-oriented self-assessment that asks them to foresee and plan for potential ethical dilemmas they may face in the future. So, I’m actually not assessing them on how they speak up currently but in the degree to which they have prepared to do so in the future based on their completion of the assignment. Thanks for your comment.


  2. klotzan says:

    That’s cool that you’re already pilot testing some aspects of your hybridization on your current students. Evidence based management – well done!

  3. morrijoh says:

    Ted, your statement that BA 354 is designated “as the sole writing-intensive course in the College” caught my attention. I’m teaching an online version of BA 353 — which is also designated a WIC. I’ve asked several times and been told Professional Development will remain the WIC for the online business administration degree. Do you know if this is changing? Do you know who knows the long-term plan for WIC in COB?

    • patersot says:

      My understanding is that once the BA 353 course is fully phased out and has transitioned to the 200 level, it will not longer be writing-intensive. That’s what I’ve been told, at least. So, at that point the BA 354 course becomes the sole option for business majors.

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