Business on the Brink: Ethics and the Financial Crisis

Fall 2014 quarter

Taught by


The financial collapse of 2007-2008 triggered the "Great Recession" in the U.S. and had devastating consequences on people worldwide. In this country, many people lost their houses through foreclosure and their jobs through the resulting contraction that rippled through the economy. While today the U.S. economy is officially in recovery, many people have yet to feel the recovery's benefits.

Yet the financial collapse was no natural disaster. What was the role of people in power, both in business and in government, in making decisions and taking actions with far-reaching consequences?

Taking as our starting point the principle that with power comes responsibility, in this program we will examine the ethical lessons of the financial crisis and its fallout. We will examine events surrounding the financial crisis in order to develop a preliminary understanding of it as well as to motivate our central questions: What ethical, political and social responsibilities do people in various roles and positions of power have? Did ethical and political lapses in the way that we conceive of and conduct business and finance allow this crisis to unfold? And, perhaps most important, what kind of power can we gain by coming to a greater understanding of these matters? 

Students will come to understand different ways to conceive of their ethical relationships to those close to them as well as to society and the world more broadly, and they will exercise their understanding in careful thinking about the recent financial crisis, to culminate in an ethical position essay. 

This program is preparatory to work and further study in ethics, politics, business, and social responsibility.


Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

business, management, ethics, politics.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Evening

Advertised schedule: Every Wednesday evening, 6-10 pm and Saturdays, October 4, October 18, November 1, November 15, December 6, 10 am -5:30 pm


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Registration Information

Credits: 8 (Fall)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

So - Sr (8 credits): 10257

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