East-Central Africa

Teaching Business Courses in the Adventist Institution

Business schools in faith-based institutions have a unique opportunity of shaping future professionals who will go out in the world to bring their expertise as well as to share their faith.  The blend of faith and living can start in the classroom so that students can develop confidence for sharing their faith when the time comes. It must be recognized, however, that the business context often emphasizes the organization’s interest at the expense of other stakeholders. This emphasis is reflected in the textbooks and case studies used in classrooms.

Although there is a tendency to a strictly utilitarian approach to business, faith-based institutions often encourage students to look into nonprofit contexts and entities, including faith-based organizations.  The values and mission of these entities differ from those of the for-profit organizations. Nevertheless, students are trained to think of the centrality of the organization, at the risk of overlooking both the mission and values of the nonprofit because of what Rochschild and Milofshy call “a lens borrowed from the for-profit (dominant) sector.”

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That is not to say that the concern over ethical understanding and practice has been ignored in the for-profit setting. It has been long recognized that the business curriculum should include an ethics component. Still, research has shown that business majors exposed to ethics training still often behave unethically once they join the corporate world. Can faith-based institutions do a better job at training and molding their students?  What are the training elements that need to be optimized?

First, the interconnectedness of each aspect of the business curriculum needs to be understood, as well as the ethical implications related to each one of them (Nicholson, DeMoss, 2009).  This calls for the collaboration of all the teachers in the department. Second, the teachers set the tone for the stand the students ought to take, but teachers are not the only ones involved in the molding process. Every employee of the institution can intentionally make a contribution. One individual can never know the far-reaching impression made on a student during an interaction.

Third, the students need a heart education, whereby they are brought to reflect, commit and resolve in their inmost being to stay true to their calling (Harris, 2008). This is where the spiritual component of the school life plays its role.  No commitment can be made for the right from a vacuum. The students need to recognize that God is the source of all that is true and right. They need to know that they can ask for the Holy Spirit to enlighten their thinking and reasoning, and be encouraged to do so.

How can an Adventist teacher make a distinctive mark in the life of each student?  Will the teachers stand out in the students’ memories as role models when the going gets tough? Will they be called upon for advice, encouragement, and support in prayer? These are the keys for creating the blend of faith and living needed to mold business students who will be faithful to their ethics throughout their careers.


Note: Article written and posted in English


2 comments

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