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Do you think ethics should be taught at today's universities? Should we be instructing our next generation of leaders that certain behaviors are right and certain behaviors are wrong? Should students at our colleges learn that telling the truth is important? Do you believe that one of the critical needs facing our culture is that we raise up a virtuous people who understand how to lead and govern with integrity, who are ethical and moral?
In the 2002 University of Michigan course catalogue there is a class entitled "Ethics of Corporate Management." At first blush you and I would likely applaud. Finally, one of the premier research universities in the land cares. Finally, we have woken up and realized there is a reason that Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have failed. Finally, we have connected the dots and recognized that maybe, just maybe, the blame for corporate greed and government arrogance is found in the halls of the ivory tower and the ideas that we pass down therein.
But before you praise the University of Michigan for its moral boldness perhaps you should go further and read the course description that follows the title. "This course" says the U of M, "is not concerned with the personal moral issues of honesty and truthfulness."
Really? Well, then, what is it concerned with? What does it teach? Is it possible that in this course description we just found the cause of the disease rather than the cure we hoped for?
We have educated a generation of moral imbeciles. We have taught them that all morality is relative and nothing is absolute and that it really doesn't matter what you believe as long as it works for you. Why then are we surprised when they function accordingly as auditors, accountants, lawyers, politicians, and CEOs?