The ‘Holy Grail’: Educating for Values-Driven Leadership Across the Curriculum and giving voice to values

Mary C Gentile

Dr Mary C Gentile is Director, Giving Voice to Values, and Senior Research Scholar, Babson College. She is also Editor of Educating for Values-Driven Leadership: Giving Voice To Values Across the Curriculum. Business Expert Press, New York City, 2013.

Mary Gentile explains how a new pedagogical model is helping to integrate values into the business education curriculum.

For those business educators working in the field of values-driven leadership development, finding a way to integrate attention to values and ethics across the curriculum has long been the“Holy Grail”.

Stand-alone, dedicated ethics and corporate responsibility courses can be valuable. They can act as signals of commitment and significance as well as curriculum development engines for materials and approaches that could then migrate across the core. But the concern has always been that these critical issues may be marginalised at best or actively contradicted in other courses at worst.

For these reasons, a new and innovative pedagogy for values-driven business called “Giving Voice To Values” (GVV) was created a number of years ago. This was driven by research on how behaviour change really happens and by an examination of the actual experiences of managers who had effectively enacted their values.

It was also based on respect for the challenges that faculty face when trying to integrate this sort of topic into the traditional business disciplines such as accounting, operations management and so on.

Objections to the integration of values and ethics across the curriculum

In almost three decades of work at some of the world’s leading business schools, I have yet to encounter a faculty member who did not hope his or her students would become responsible and ethical business professionals.

And yet, these same educators often voiced deeply held resistance to the explicit integration of values and ethics into their teaching. For example, they would point out that they were not trained as philosophers but rather as experts in finance, accounting, marketing or general management. They would argue that the last thing they wanted to do was to force their own values/ethics onto their students, both because they believed this would be inappropriate and/or because such “preaching” would be ineffective anyway.

Additionally, their intellectual integrity led them to the conclusion that in many instances the “right thing” to do was actually not so clear. And, finally, their syllabi were already packed with the concepts, analytics and tools of their own discipline and they felt an obligation to make sure they turned out students who were knowledgeable and skilled in those areas.

For the full article, please read the PDF or listen to the Podcast to find out about: So how does this look in the classroom?

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