Past Chair holder: Stacy Jackson, Business (2007)
Background. It seems that each day’s newspaper brings fresh testimony about the critical importance of personal and group ethics in shaping our world. The institutions of an economy are not merely machines to be fine-tuned through technical competence; culture and commerce depend fundamentally upon trust and faithfulness. When trust is broken by unethical conduct, the ill effects spread beyond those who have sacrificed their integrity. Every stakeholder is harmed when individuals and groups organize their lives in ways that contradict God’s norms for life together.
Commercial and educational institutions are realizing the importance of integrating ethics with business education and practice. But many educational institutions are at a disadvantage in rising to the challenge. The modern era has tried to sever the natural connections between ethical education and practical competence. In business education, this often results in a curriculum in which ethics are considered in a separate “business ethics” course or curriculum, while much of the rest of the “technical” curriculum advances within a different bubble. Even when ethics are considered, much of the modern world slaves away under relativism, a harsh master that expects much while withholding the means for success.
Calvin College is in a position to provide leadership on this issue. Calvin’s business and economics curriculum has not fallen into the habit of segregating ethical issues into a separate curriculum. In all our work, we aim for integrity among all the aspects of being an effective steward of the creation. During the last thirty years, the academic world has experienced an explosion of substantial Christian scholarship, and Calvin has been a major force in this development. There are now resources and networks that make possible the development of a consistently Reformed Christian voice on issues of business ethics. Many Christian academic institutions look to Calvin for leadership in this area. This opportunity also coincides with a growing awareness in the broader academic world of the difficulties imposed by modernism and relativism.
It is time to develop institutional means by which Reformed Christian voices in this conversation can be enriched and supported, and under whose leadership the College can expand its approach to integrating ethical considerations throughout the curriculum. As the department is revising its business curriculum, it would be especially helpful to have a strong scholar in this area providing leadership to our efforts to make certain that our curriculum thoroughly integrates ethical considerations throughout all of our courses at both introductory and advanced levels.
Purpose. The general purposes of this chair are to provide proven Christian scholars the opportunity to deepen their understanding of important issues surrounding ethics in business life, to create materials that increase the Christian presence in contemporary debates, to disseminate their learning to appropriate audiences, and to provide leadership to the Calvin community in addressing issues of business ethics. This would likely involve some mix of lectures, workshops, curriculum planning, and traditional research and scholarship. However nuanced in its final form, the work is expected to be thoroughly and thoughtfully Christian in its underpinnings.