Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Business 1010 adopts innovative approach to teaching ethics


Business 1010 introduces students new to the College of Business about all the resources available to them as they embark on careers in business.

Sam Erwin speaks to Business-1010 students
Sam Erwin, Rutland Institute board member, speaks to students on ethics.

The introductory course required of all business majors addresses topics vital to success regardless of a student’s study discipline, including leadership, volunteerism and ethics, to name a few.

Beginning this semester, more than 900 students in 42 sections of the course are being introduced to a new way of learning about business ethics through Clemson University’s hub of ethics education, the Rutland Institute for Ethics.

“Traditionally, Business 1010 has taught ethics through an open-sourced textbook approach,” said Bill Tumblin, senior lecturer. “But in reviewing our curriculum to improve the students’ learning experience, we’ve tapped a great university resource and its cadre of alumni to create a more innovative approach to teaching ethics, and it’s been a resounding success.”

Founded in 2001, the Rutland Institute for Ethics promotes ethics across all academic disciplines on campus. And like so many other endeavors university-wide, the institute engages a very generous alumni base to give of their time and expertise in the classroom.

Joe Turner of Rutland Institute speaks to Bus-1010 students
Rutland Institute board member Joe Turner speaks to Business-1010 students.

Bill McCoy, director of the Rutland Institute for Ethics, said the new approach to ethics education in Business 1010 is powerful in that alumni business leaders share with students their experiences in dealing with ethical issues.

“Tapping into the expertise alumni can bring to the classroom is very powerful,” said McCoy. “They are able to provide a real-world business perspective in dealing with various ethical dilemmas. The alumni we have teaching the classes are well-versed in identifying and addressing these issues.”

Tumblin said the institute’s teaching approach helps students identify potential ethical dilemmas, then teaches how to work through them.

“The institute’s model for decision making on ethics really helps students – and faculty and staff – think through ethical situations,” Tumblin said. “Not only is it an effective way of dealing with ethical issues, the approach to teaching has created a much more interactive classroom experience for students.”

McCoy said the decision-making STAR (Stop, Test, Act and Reflect) model was developed by faculty members from five colleges across campus.

“We are testing the STAR model across campus and we’re finding it helps students, regardless of their educational discipline, to methodically work through an ethical dilemma,” McCoy said. “The institute is beginning to integrate this approach into everyone’s education at Clemson.”

Business 1010 students are given study materials prior to the ethics class. Once familiar with the decision-making model, alumni presenters walk through an ethical issue they faced, and students interact with how they would handle it.

“After the presentation and hearing how students would respond, the presenters reveal what really happened and the approach that was taken to address the issue,” Tumblin said. “It’s a very effective way of teaching students how to identify and deal with an ethical situation.”

Alumni interested in contributing their experiences with students on ethical issues should contact Bill McCoy at the Rutland Institute.

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