BUSN 2101-Corporate Social Responsibility and Human Values


 Fall 2008 EoC Class

This one credit-hour business elective on the subject of corporate social responsibility ("CSR") was offered for the first time at Trinity University during the Spring 2008. The course, with its focus on the economy of communion, drew a fair amount of attention along the way. The orientation of the course is captured in the following quote from the Course Syllabus:

We are experiencing an economic crisis that has corresponded with, if not been precipitated by, the quest for short-term profits and the accumulation of capital.  Although corporate social responsibility is often spoken of in the media, the companies that seem to dominate the news are those which are in crisis - filing bankruptcy, or seeking bailouts.  Unfortunately, we often overlook the many sustainable businesses that make a positive contribution to society.  This course will focus on corporate social responsibility and a different approach to profitability.  What motivates a company to 'good' things?  Is there a universal perspective that can serve to motivate socially responsible behavior regardless of the size of the company or its position in the world economy?  Finally, the course will provide an introduction to the Economy of Communion project in which entrepreneurs have asked these questions and created their businesses based on the principle of eradicating poverty and putting the human person at the center of their businesses.”

                                                                                                    -Dr. Linda Specht

The course has drawn students from a variety of majors, ranging from Economics to Music.  Students meet once a week to discuss assigned readings or watch films relating to both CSR and the Economy of Communion ("EoC").  They use "daily commentaries" each class period to discuss the day's readings and to interact with one another.  Class readings vary from business database articles to information found on various websites (such as the UN Global Compact).  Each student is encouraged to go beyond the day's readings and to use the class period as a place to explore alternatives for the development of corporate social responsibility and human values.

Two events are pivotal to the course, the first of which is a symposium with EoC business leaders.  The class spends several weeks compiling questions about the EoC and the operations of an EoC business to prepare for the event.  On the day of the seminar, students spend three hours with the business leaders, engaging in simulations and learning more about the actual implementation of EoC principles.  The symposium ends with an open session, to which the greater university community is invited.  Comments from the 2009 open session reveal both interest and a desire for future engagement on the part of attendees:

      • "I have never before heard of this, but I think it is an effort that deserves more than 5% North American participation.  I envy the cultures they create [within] their companies and their efforts to distribute aid are . . .meaningful and very effective."
      • "The concept of giving over having is a value that I admire, and the idea of being a part of something with those values is an interest of mine for my future career."
      • "This lecture was interesting because the speaker was very passionate about social responsibility.  He was more concerned with giving back and connecting with people than just looking to make a profit.  He stressed the importance of maintaining respect, ethics and integrity.  Business seems worthwhile if there is meaning behind what business people do."

The second pivotal event in the course is the completion of a Capstone Project.  Students may work in a group or individually to express what they’ve learned about the Economy of Communion in a form that interests them or relates to their specific area of academic study.  These projects are then presented to the entire class at the end of the semester.  (see Class Projects)


 --Click here for a copy of the class syllabus--