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business ethics topics

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Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland

Professor Steve Loeb
3335 Van Munching Hall

Professor Josh Newberg
3425 Van Munching Hall

       This course will survey applied topics in business ethics. In our first
meeting, we will provide a conceptual framework for analyzing these topics. This
framework has four parts or “themes”: (1) Ethical systems, (2) Corporate Social
Responsibility, (3) Relationship of Law and Ethics, and (4) Individual Ethical
Decision-Making. Thereafter, class time will be used to explore applied topics
with reference to these four themes. The course will use a number of
instructional formats including: (1) lectures, (2) student group presentations, (3)
videos, (4) guest speakers, and (5) a social auditing project.
       The course will meet on the times and dates announced in the schedule.
Grading is on a pass/fail basis using the following system.

       Class Participation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30%
       Group Presentation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30%
       Social Audit Project . . . . . . . . . .               40%
Class Participation (30%)

       Attendance and active participation are essential to learning in this course,
and the instructors will keep detailed notes of each. Please attend each class
and draw from the reading material in your class participation. To help with this
evaluation attendance will be taken. Papers may be assigned as alternative
assignments in the case of absences or other instances where significant class
time is missed.

Group Presentation (30%)

      Each student will be assigned to a group that will have responsibility to
present on a particular applied topic. The size of your group will likely be 3, 4 or 5
students. Each group presentation is to last about 45 minutes. Grades on the
presentations will be determined by the instructors.

         Each group will introduce its topic, identify the important issues and
suggest alternative ways of dealing with the issues raised by the topic. Ideally,
the group will address the following four themes: (1) ethical systems (2)
corporate social responsibility; (3) the interplay between law and ethics; and (4)
individual ethical decision-making. Group presentations should be thorough and
effective. Find ways to involve the entire class for some part of the presentation.
Groups are encouraged to use creative presentation techniques such as: mock
trials, role-plays, debates, town meetings, or case studies that involve the
audience. Feel free to employ appropriate audio-visual techniques such as
Power Point. Groups are strongly encouraged to hand out an outline of the
presentation to the class. In preparation for the presentation the groups are
encouraged to prepare in the evenings during weekend classes and to
communicate with each other by telephone or email.
The topics for group presentations are:
     Ethics of Fair Competition and Intellectual property
     Accounting Ethics
     Privacy
     Global Ethics
     Whistleblowing
     Compliance and Crises Management
     Employment Ethics
     Ethics of Investing

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Social Audit Project (40%)

Each student is to do a Social Audit (SA). A 6-10 page typed (double spaced)
written report will be due on the dated noted below.

Ideally the SA will be done with regard to the firm for which you are currently
working. Since this exercise involves corporate social responsibility (CSR), no
governmental agencies should be the subject of your SA. If it is not feasible to
study your employer, you should pick a corporation and obtain information from a
variety of sources (e.g., the Internet, publications, the SEC, contacting the

Begin by informing yourself of what the corporation does to make the world a
better place, other than to sell its goods and services. For example, what social
policies does it follow regarding community development, education, and/or the
environment? CSR involves activities in addition to contributions to charity
(although such contribution are part of CSR). During the SA, think about ways
that the corporation might more effectively meet its social goals if it has such
specific goals. If the corporation does not have specific goals determine why not.
Your paper should be analytical as well as descriptive. Moreover, your research
should be thorough and appropriately footnoted. It is not enough to report what
the company says about itself in company documents or in its website. Please
look beyond company sources so that you can critically evaluate your company’s

The written report should present the methodology you followed in conducting
your SA as well as your conclusions. The written report is due June 18, 2005.


Please e-mail to Professor Josh Newberg and Professor Steve Loeb a write-up
(not exceeding 300 words) of an explanation of how you propose to accomplish
your social audit project. It should be received by January 15, 2005 (no faxes
please). If an attachment is used, please use Word.

Special Needs:          Any student with special needs should bring this to the
attention of one of the instructors, as soon as possible, but not later than the
January 21, 2005 class.

Academic Integrity: The University's Code of Academic Integrity is designed
to ensure that the principles of academic honesty and integrity are upheld. All
students are expected to adhere to this Code. The Smith School does not
tolerate academic dishonesty. All acts of academic dishonesty will be dealt with
in accordance with the provisions of this code. Please visit the following website

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for more information on the University's Code of Academic Integrity:

On each assignment you will be asked to write out and sign the following pledge.
"I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized
assistance on this exam/assignment."

Readings There will be required reading that will be provided to you in

Schedule of Events*
October 29, 2004
7 pm- 9:30pm
                             Discuss Syllabus/Assign Groups—Professor Steve Loeb

                             Topics: Ethical Systems, Corporate Social Responsibility
                             (CSR) Law and Ethics, Individual Ethical Decision-Making
                              — Professor Josh Newberg

December 4, 2004                Topics: Social Auditing in Practice;
1:30pm- 6pm                    Compliance and Crises Management;
                               Ethics of Fair Competition and Intellectual Property
                               2 guest speakers, 2 group presentations:

January 21, 2005              Topic: Accounting Ethics
7 pm- 9:30 pm                 Guest speaker; Group presentation

Mar. 25, 2005                Topic: Whistleblowing
7 pm- 9:30pm                 Guest speaker; Group presentation

June 4, 2005                  Topic: Global Ethics
7 pm- 9:30pm                  Group presentation, Professors Loeb and Newberg

June 18, 2005
1:30pm- 6pm                Topics: Privacy, Ethics of Investing, Employment Ethics
                           3 group presentations; 1 or 2 guest speakers

* The schedule may change due to the availability guest speakers.

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