By Mark Pattison
A Catholic university in the US is spinning off its current economics and business curriculum from its School of Arts and Sciences and fashioning a new business school with the idea of infusing ethics into all course offerings.
In 2014, graduates of the Catholic University of America will receive their degrees from the new School of Business and Economics, the university’s 13th school.
This year’s business and economics graduates will still receive degrees from the School of Arts and Sciences.
“We have very small classes, and we want to keep it that way,” Associate Professor Andrew Abela said.
“There’s something about the program that the students find appealing,” Abela said.
He believes it is the correlation of societal institutions with the economy and the application of natural law within the curriculum.
Natural law and Catholicism are “right at the heart of what we’re teaching”, he said.
In Abela’s view, if the society is not moral, the economy will not act morally either, and he sees the family unit as key, too.
“At the root of the failings of 2008 and the economic decline, at the root of all that is a moral decline,” he said.
“A society that isn’t living morally is not likely to prosper for very long.
“The single biggest example of this is the family. If you don’t have a strong family, kids don’t grow up to be disciplined and they’re not productive contributors to the economy.”
While he applies that principle to the US economy, Abela said it fits the situation as well in Europe, which has seen a series of debt crises in European Union member nations.
“The decline of the family (in Europe) is so much greater” than in the US, he added.
“It’s difficult to see how they can dig themselves out of the hole that they are in.”
Since the US economy took a tumble in 2008, business colleges have offered ethics courses because there has been “an increased concern with ethics” but most courses are an add-on to the curriculum, Abela said.
At Catholic University, ethics is a part of every course in the program, he added.
“For example, in a marketing course, students learn how to be” a good marketer – where ‘good’ is understood as both effective and ethical,” he explained.
Mr Abela worked in advertising, marketing and consulting before joining the Catholic University faculty 10 years ago. – CNS