Koeze Business Ethics Initiative

Mission

The Koeze Business Ethics Initiative at the Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University, has as its mission to examine the role and influence of business in public life, to promote inquiry into ethical business practices and education, and to be a leading resource for business persons, students, faculty, and administrators who seek to understand the relationship between business, the common good, and a life well-lived.

Do businesses have any obligation to serve the common, or greater good? What does the future of capitalism look like? Do companies with “ethical cultures” really perform better than those who simply obey the law? Is there a market for teaching virtue to business students and managers, or would B Schools do better to focus on compliance and regulations? Is the American tradition of philanthropy preferable to the European tradition of creating strong social safety nets? How do family-owned businesses transfer their values to non-family members?  What is the proper role of religious values in a business? What kind of dilemmas do - or should – keep business owners up at night?

The Business Ethics Center at the Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University, was formed in the late 1990’s so that regional business owners and leading professionals could come together in a forum that allowed for spirited and informed discussion of the kinds of questions listed above.  Barry Castro’s vision was that through dialogue those most responsible for the creation of wealth in the community might also find a place where they could reflect openly and deeply with their peers on the guiding values of their work, and how their chosen endeavors impacted the quality of life in west Michigan.

Since Barry’s death in 2005, the Center has continued these forums, but now under the new director, Michael DeWilde, has also expanded the offerings of the Center to include public debates, panel discussions, a faculty lunch series, international exchanges, research and writing, and student-centered events. The highlight of each year is the Barry Castro Business Ethics Lecture, which brings to campus a person or persons at the forefront of business ethics thinking or practice and invites students, faculty, and the public to engage the ideas presented.

Now in its fourth year under Prof. DeWilde, the BEC’s mission is to examine the role and influence of business in public life, to promote inquiry into ethical business practices and education, and to be a leading resource for business persons, students, faculty and administrators who seek to understand the relationship between business, the common good, and a life well-lived.

 

The BEC focuses on various avenues for promoting these dialogues:

  • The Barry Castro Business Ethics Lecture. Every year the Center brings a major figure in business, journalism, or academia to Grand Rapids to deliver a public lecture. The speaker is also the guest at a dinner in his or her honor with local businesspeople, and often will meet with student groups before the evening lecture.
  • The BEC Fellows Program. Fellows are local, prominent businesspeople who co-teach one course in Business Ethics during their tenure, give one or more seminars for Seidman students and faculty related to their business expertise and experience, and assist the Director with events throughout the year. The BEC Fellow for 2008-2009 is Jeffrey Koeze, the owner and Managing Director of the Koeze Co. in Grand Rapids, MI.
  • Our services. The Director of the Center regularly conducts seminars and workshops for businesses in the areas of business ethics, values clarification, multi-generational understanding and conflict-resolution. Please contact Professor Michael DeWilde directly for more details.
  • Faculty Seminars. The Director of the BEC, the BEC Fellow, and others provide resources for Seidman faculty who are teaching ethics in their classrooms.
  • Student-Centered Events. “Ethics Nights,” panel discussions, and guest speakers provide Seidman students with an array of perspectives on ethical thought and action.
  • The Barry Castro Endowed Scholarship for Business Ethics. This merit-based scholarship awards two $1,500 scholarships per year to students in junior standing. Students must demonstrate outstanding academic ability and a commitment to the study of ethics in business contexts. The scholarship recipients for 2008-2009 are Kyle Denning and Brittany Byndas.
  • Research and Conferences. The Director and others affiliated with the BEC are engaged in on-going scholarship relevant to ethics in business and are committed to sharing that research at national and international conferences.
  • The BEC Forum. The BEC conducts ongoing small group meetings focusing on specific ethical issues of the members’ choosing.

Seidman College of Business Student Code of Honor

The principles of truth and honesty are recognized as fundamental to a community of teachers and scholars.  As such, the Seidman College of Business expects both faculty and students to honor these principles and, in so doing, to forge a lifelong commitment to ethical behavior. View the complete Student Code of Honor.

Page last modified July 20, 2014