UVA McIntire students are interested in pursuing careers that allow them to live their core values. In an effort to explore the transformational power of commerce through coursework, the Commerce School is launching a set of signature courses focused on “Commerce for the Common Good.” All of these courses center on the intersection of business and society.
Supported in large part by a generous gift from John P. Connaughton (McIntire ’87) and Stephanie F. Connaughton, the slate of courses is part of an overarching ideal that commerce can be employed to address significant societal challenges and effect positive change.
“McIntire’s Commerce for the Common Good classes will enrich students’ learning experience at McIntire and contribute to an even more comprehensive business education,” says Amanda Cowen, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Cohen Bicentennial Professor of Commerce. “These offerings touch on critical issues of our time and further the School’s vision of developing global citizens who can transform commerce and society.”
A Trio of New Spring Courses
The roster of classes will feature three new courses in the spring of 2024: Race in Commerce; Reimagining Global Capitalism; and Value, Ambition, and Gender in the Work Arena.
Taught by Professors Steven L. Johnson and Andrea Roberts, Race in Commerce will examine the systemic ways race impacts wealth accumulation, market dynamics, income inequality, and product accessibility. Students will learn about historic foundations of race, racialized consumer markets, disparities in economic opportunities, and ethical considerations in commercial contexts, as well as how racial disparities perpetuated by systemic inequalities can often be extrapolated to other marginalized communities.
“Race has a major impact on nearly every aspect of U.S. society, and the world of commerce is no exception. No matter where they head after graduation, a better understanding of how race affects consumers, households, and firms will empower our students to be better decision-makers and to lead more effectively throughout their careers,” says Johnson.
Professor Peter Maillet’s undergraduate course Reimagining Global Capitalism will study the global capitalist system while identifying ways capitalism can be applied to address the world’s most pressing challenges through its unique capacity to advance humanity and its well-being. A reading-based weekly discussion seminar, the course has been designed to help students envision how their own business skills and experiences can be developed into careers of purpose and fulfillment.
In Value, Ambition, and Gender in the Work Arena, Professors Felicia Marston and Adelaide Wilcox King will study fundamental questions behind the lack of women in senior business leadership positions and how that affects organizations and professionals of all genders. The course seeks to equip future leaders to navigate issues that they—and those they lead—will encounter during three major phases of their professional lives: pre-career, career construction, and impact.
Classes on a Diverse Set of Topics
With subjects ranging from personal values, human dignity, global business, artificial intelligence, ethics, and much more, other Commerce for the Common Good courses cover a myriad of important issues:
- Students explore their own sense of self and what they deem important in their lives—and in many aspects of business—in King’s Reimagining Firm Purpose course.
- Emphasizing marketing, management, and leadership lessons that culminate in a career- or life-planning project, Professor David Mick’s longstanding Cultivating Wisdom and Well-Being for Personal and Professional Growth remains consistently updated to reflect important changes in the worlds of business, society, and the environment.
- Professor Dorothy Leidner examines pressing concerns about personal information privacy, AI, and issues that impact individual dignity in Personal Data, Artificial Intelligence, and the Common Good, which addresses AI’s societal, governmental, organizational, personal aspects through ethical and justice-minded lenses.
- Professor Roger Martin emphasizes ethical decision-making and critical thinking in the accounting industry in his graduate course Ethics in Business, Accounting, and Auditing.
- Professor Katie McDermott’s Environmental, Social, and Governance Accounting focuses on sustainability reporting and offers an ESG primer.
- Professor Bill Wilhelm’s Finance and Society course provides students with the ability to engage skillfully in the public debate about the market and critical conversations around it.
- Maillet’s Foundations of Global Commerce delves deep into the interconnected global system driven by business leaders who determine the world’s future—and how students can make a difference in it.
- In Professor Mark White’s interdisciplinary course, Investing in a Sustainable Future, students study climate and conservation finance, the circular economy, and ESG investing.
- White’s Managing Sustainable Development, which is open to undergrad and grad students, focuses on environmental challenges facing societies and global corporations, and successful leadership strategies within companies and by social entrepreneurs.
- Johnson is teaching a pair of courses with the same content: Ethical Application of Artificial Intelligence, for undergraduate students, and Managerial View of AI, a graduate version. Both are dedicated to the management of AI, ethical frameworks, algorithmic bias, responsible AI use, and accountable autonomy.
Other courses being offered inculde several that are also open to non-Commerce majors: Professor Jeffrey Lovelace’s Leadership Across the Disciplines, a requirement of McIntire’s pan-UVA Leadership Minor, and Professor Dorothy Kelly’s essential Personal Finance.