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Office of News & Public Affairs

Carroll School's New ‘Portico’ Course Opens DoorTo Business Ethics 2.0

required freshman course connects ethics, leadership and globalization

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (October, 2009) – To meet the challenge of teaching business ethics to undergraduates in a way that connects with both students and the real world, this year every freshman entering Boston College’s Carroll School of Management will enroll in Portico, a new core course that focuses on ethical decision-making in a global business environment.

A major initiative of the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics, Portico’s combination of lectures, visits with seasoned executives and hands-on case studies places students at the intersection of the three driving forces of business education today: ethics, leadership and globalization.

“We can’t teach business ethics in a vacuum – we have to bring it to life so the subject really resonates with our newest students,” said Carroll School Dean Andrew Boynton. “Portico connects ethics with leadership and globalization in ways that will equip Carroll School undergraduates to recognize and respond to the challenges of contemporary business.”

In the wake of scandals such as Enron and WorldCom, undergraduate business programs revamped their ethics courses and many now are in the process of further fine-tuning instruction on the topic. A task force of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business reported in 2004 that ethics education would be tied to accreditation and that it should be woven into the curriculum.

As the focus on business ethics intensified, the topics of leadership and globalization rose to the fore of business study. A working group of Carroll School administrators and staff saw a unique opportunity to combine the three topics into a freshman course guided by the institution’s Jesuit tradition of discernment. The global financial crisis only intensified the need for a course that might also be described as Business Ethics 2.0.

Richard Keeley, associate dean for undergraduate programs and a co-director of the Winston Center, says the course requires “fine-grained encounters” with business leaders, case studies involving local companies and team projects.

“For the student as he or she goes through a business program, there is a practice of discernment,” says Keeley, who also directs programs of the Winston Center. “But 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?”

For freshmen business majors at the Carroll School, their studies began while their classmates were still unpacking their dorm rooms. Before Labor Day weekend, the freshmen traveled throughout Boston, meeting with area executives and visiting sites tied to innovative businesses and business leaders dating back to Boston’s earliest days.

The broad scope of the course led to the creation of an interdisciplinary team of faculty and guest lecturers from inside and outside of the Carroll School, as well as visiting executives.

“Andy Boynton and Dick Keeley came up with a great idea to energize the freshmen experience by bringing together faculty and expertise from across the University,” said David Quigley, dean of BC’s College of Arts and Sciences, who collaborated on the Portico project in his role as director of the Institute for the Liberal Arts. “This is one of the most exciting projects I’ve participated in at BC and a great chance to figure out what we do well and how we can do better.”

For more information, contact Ed Hayward of the Boston College Office of News & Public Affairs at 617-552-4826, or by email at

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