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Caroll Capital HedPortico class

Discerning good

The Carroll School is adapting the nearly 500 year-old Jesuit spiritual tradition of “discernment” to orient freshmen to decision making in business. “Portico,” a three-credit course for first-year undergraduates, uses discernment—the practice of being attentive, reflective, and then making a choice—to teach contemporary issues of ethics, leadership, and globalization. Together these elements prepare students on the threshold of their professional education for the ethical challenges they will face in business and in life.

This fall, 40 students are participating in two pilot sections led by Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Richard Keeley (pictured) and Associate Research Professor Richard Spinello. In addition to listening to lectures and participating in group projects, students tour current and former centers of trade and tackle hands-on case studies involving local companies. They also engage with a cross-section of Carroll School faculty, seasoned executives, and young alumni who talk about the opportunities available in different fields of business and raise questions about the students’ personal aspirations. In addition to guiding decision making around ethical issues, Keeley and Spinello help the freshmen discern their goals.

Spinello, who teaches ethics to undergraduate and graduate students, applauds the new approach, “This course does a very good job of tying ethical issues to issues of innovation, entrepreneurship, capitalism, and more.”


Keeley agrees, underscoring the significance of Jesuit values: "For the student going through a business program, there is a practice of discernment. It is not simply lining up strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It's about determining what your heart's desire is. What are you being called to do?"



Beginning in fall 2009, Portico will be a required freshman seminar for the nearly 500 entering Carroll School students.

Read more about Portico.