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College of Business Administration

Business Ethics Education Initiative

We are serious about business ethics education in the College of Business Administration, and this initiative reflects our focus on educating business students in ethics knowledge. Our effort is several decades old and has been recognized by the agency that accredits business schools internationally, AACSB, and the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy has approved our graduate Professional Ethics course as meeting the ethics requirement for taking the CPA exam. 

Aspen Institute Seal 2012The Aspen Institute has also ranked the K-State MBA program among the world's best for teaching and researching ethical, social and environmental responsibility in their 2010 and 2012 "Beyond Grey Pinstripes" list.  

The mission of the Business Ethics Education Initiative is to help strengthen business ethics education internationally, nationally, and locally. The goals include enhancing public awareness of the importance of business ethics coursework and identifying effective models of ethics education for relevant stakeholders.

We are achieving these goals through external and internal (campus) outreach activities, including affiliations with profit and not-for-profit organizations.

The initiative is headed by Diane Swanson, professor of management and The Edgerley Family Chair in Business Administration. Swanson is a well-known, and sought-after ethics expert who has been appointed to the Academy of Management Ethics Education Committee. Visit the Academy's Ethics Blog for more information. 

Team Teaching and Sponsored Speakers

Team Teaching

Mr. Rand Berney, Executive in Residence, team teaches the graduate-level Professional Ethics class with Dr. Swanson (Fall 2013 to present).  

Sponsored Speakers

Mr. Jeffrey Hollender, social entrepreneur and author, was a speaker in the Lou Douglas Lecture Series, a university event that was attended by CBA Professional Advantage students (Fall 2014). The title of his talk was “The Responsibility Revolution and the Future of Business.” View this lecture.

Dr. Sara Kearns, K-State Head of Undergraduate and Community Services, is a guest speaker on research tools in the undergraduate class entitled” Business Ethics and Corporate Citizenship” (Fall 2013 to Present).

Dr. Praveen Vadlani, K-State Endowed Professor in Grain Science and Industry, is a guest speaker on renewable energy in the MBA class entitled “Managing the Triple Bottom Line Business” (Spring 2014 to Present).

Dr. Sandra Waddock, Professor of Management at Boston College, spoke to undergraduate management classes about ethics during her two-day visit as Distinguished Researcher (Spring 2014).

Mr. William Zawrotny, Partner at Jones Day, is a guest speaker on ethics and corporate governance in undergraduate and graduate classes, and he delivers seminars on practical ethics for the Professional Advantage Program (Spring 2013 to Present).

Mr. William Zorrilla, Program Manager at Earth’s Harvest, is a guest speaker on social entrepreneurship and networking in the MBA class entitled “Managing the Triple Bottom Line Business” (Spring 2014 to Present).

Praveen V. Vadlani, the Lortscher endowed associate professor of grain science and industry, presented "K-State's Role in the Future of Renewable Energy" to Professional Advantage students in the College of Business Administration (Fall 2015).


Internal Outreach

The initiative serves as an institutional umbrella for internal outreach activities aimed at disseminating information about business ethics education to constituents at Kansas State University.

In consultation with members of a local advisory committee and speakers bureau, the initiative sponsors guest lectures, ethics resources, and a campus-wide graduate seminar in professional ethics.

External Outreach

The initiative also serves as an institutional umbrella for external outreach activities aimed at improving national standards in business ethics education. In collaboration with members of our national advisory committee, the initiative has sponsored a special research team, whose members have collected data for benchmarking best practices in ethics education in business programs across the country. Based on this information, as well as other research, the initiative produces and disseminates policies statements on strategies for delivering business ethics in the curriculum.

As chair of the initiative, Dr. Swanson serves on dissertation committees at other universities for doctoral candidates focused on conducting research on business ethics education. A sample of this service is as follows:

  • Dissertation Examiner, Research & Innovation Division, University of Newcastle, Australia (2015).
    • Dissertation topic: Business ethics education and faculty teaching expertise: Are business school educators equipped, trained and capable to teach normative ethical theory?
  • Dissertation Committee Member, Benedictine Values-Drives Executive PhD Program (2014 to present).
    • Dissertation topic: Values driven transformation: Can an intentional focus on values, in an educational setting, drive a transformation in a seasoned leader?
  • Dissertation Defense Committee Chair, Escuela Superior de Administracion Direccion de Empressa (ESADE) in association with Ramon Llull University, Barcelona, Spain. (Defense successfully completed in 2011.)
    • Dissertation topic: A transformative model for socially responsible business education.

Advisory Committee

Advisory Committee Chair

C. Clyde Jones, Manhattan, KS, former Dean of the College of Business Administration at Kansas State University
Statement on the History and Philosophy of Business Ethics Coursework at Kansas State University

Advisory Committee Members

  • Dann Fisher, Kansas State University; Professor of Accounting, Deloitte & Touche Faculty Fellow
  • Robert A. Giacalone, John Carroll University; Raymond and Eleanor Smiley Chair in Business Ethics
  • Sara Kearns, Kansas State University; Head, Undergraduate/Community Services
  • Barrie E. Litzky, Penn State Great Valley; Associate Professor of Management and Operation
  • Tammy MacLean, Suffolk University; Associate Professor of Management
  • Mildred Myers, Carnegie Mellon University; Principal Lecturer and Media Expert
  • Marc Orlitzky, University of South Australia Business School, Australia; Associate Professor of Management
  • Adam Stetzer, President and Co-Founder, HubShout
  • Sandra Waddock, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship;Professor of Management and Senior Research Fellow; Editor: Journal for Corporate Citizenship
  • Jim Weber, Duquense University, Professor of Management, Director of the Beard Center for Ethics at the Palumbo School of Business
  • Duane Windsor, Rice University, Lynette Autrey Chair of Ethics, Professor of Business, Editor, Business & Society
  • William Zawrotny, Partner, Jones Day, Atlanta
  • William Zorrilla, Program Manager, Earth's Harvest 

Ethics Education

Teaching Tips

The Business Ethics Education Initiative has partnered with the Academy of Management Ethics Education Committee to create a repository of novel techniques for teaching professional ethics in face-to-face or virtual classrooms.  A few of these tips are featured below.

  • Diane L. Swanson - Professor at Kansas State University, College of Business Administration
    • "I use three Star Trek characters to introduce students to ethics in decision making and the importance of moral courage in "To Go Boldly! Trekking for Moral Courage." Read More (pdf).
  • Denis Collins - Professor at Edgewood College, Business School
    • "I have created a 90 item best practices in business ethics benchmark survey in 11 general areas (e.g., hiring, codes, ethics training). Students assess their organizations based on these benchmarks and use the survey results to praise major accomplishments and prioritize areas for continuous improvements." Read More (pdf).

  • Denis Collins - Professor at Edgewood College, Business School
    • "On the first day of class, for the first few minutes I role play an unethical boss who bullies suppliers and employees. I then ask students to convince me, still in my role of unethical boss, why I should behave ethically instead of being unethical. Eventually, students will provide self-interested financial reasons why I should be ethical. We then discuss the bottom-line reasons why ethical organizations can financially outperform unethical organizations." Read More.

  • Denis Collins - Professor at Edgewood College, Business School
    • "Environmental performance is an essential business ethics topics. During the semester, my students work on teams to improve their own environmental performance by measuring their ecological footprint, the campus performance by managing an “Eco-Olympics” between residence halls, and their own work organization based on a “The Natural Step” assessment.Read More (pdf).

  • Denis Collins - Professor at Edgewood College, Business School
    • "I have students assess the ethical culture of their own organizations by transforming their company’s Code of Ethics or Values Statement into a 1-5 Likert Scale Survey for each item. Students then provide recommendations for transforming an ethical weakness into a strength.Read More.

  • Diane L. Swanson - Professor at Kansas State University, College of Business Administration
    • "I invite executives and other senior managers to be involved in my ethics classroom. The benefits that accrue from this arrangement are clear." Read More.


While all of our coursework has a solid ethics base, the College of Business Administration in conjunction with the Business Ethics Education Initiative offers several courses focused more specifically on business ethics.

Business Ethics and Corporate Citizenship (MANGT 596)
K-State's tradition of requiring ethics courses of its business students began in 1967 when this course was embedded in the undergraduate curriculum. This course focuses on the interactions of business in social, political, economic, and technological domains that shape managers' legal and ethical responsibilities to corporate stakeholders.

Managing the Triple Bottom Line Business (MANGT 860)
This MBA requirement builds on the undergraduate course. In this course, students integrate concepts from core areas of management to formulate ethical and strategic responses to issues posed by environmental factors.

Professional Ethics (MANGT 897)
In addition to required courses in legal and social issues, Professional Ethics is offered as an elective to students in the MBA and Masters in Accountancy programs. Through directed research and case studies, students in this course apply ethics to various professions.

Other Business Courses
Ethics material is also integrated into other business courses, including Management Information Systems, Accounting, Strategy, Organizational Behavior, Leadership, and Small Business Consulting.

Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities, such as the Business Ethics Speaker Series, enhance ethics in our curriculum. Students are also providing leadership as members of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), one of the K-State student organizations in the CBA. These students have worked with two KSU professors to develop a set of radio clips on business ethics. This organization also delivers ethics material in workshops given during the K-State SIFE High School Symposiums.

Continuing Education

Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Corporate Social Responsibility - Dr. Swanson also teaches in Benedictine University Center for Values-driven Leadership's Executive PhD/DBA program. 

Credit Managers - Swanson teaches a course called Ethics in Business and Society in the Graduate School of Credit and Financial Management sponsored by the National Association of Credit Management and held on the campus of Dartmouth College in June.

Accounting Ethics - Dann Fisher, PhD, CPA, and Swanson have designed an accounting ethics seminar that meets Kansas requirements for CPA license renewal. For more information, please contact either Swanson or Fisher.

Research & Publications

In alliance with the Business Ethics Education Initiative at K-State, Tammy L. MacLean , Suffolk University, and Barrie Litzky, Penn State Great Valley, are researching MBA programs in the United States to examine the extent to which all business school students are acquiring a foundation in business ethics as part of their educational experience. They have compiled curriculum requirements related to ethics in top MBA programs in the U.S. as ranked by BusinessWeek in 2004 and 2008, using each university's own website and on-line catalog as a data source.

  • Statement on the Need to Reform Business Education
  • A Survey of CSR Education: Trends, Comparisons, Processes
  • 2003 Data Compilation and Findings, Executive Summary
  • 2008 Data Compilation and Findings, Executive Summary


  • Advancing Business Ethics Education (Information Age Publishing, 2008)

Edited by Diane Swanson and Dann Fisher, this book includes chapters written by prominent professors and administrators on topics featuring ethics education in terms of business school curriculum, various sub disciplines, service learning, integrity, global citizenship, moral management, decision making models, and interactive learning techniques.The book is part of a series, Ethics in Practice, edited by Robert A. Giacalone, Temple University, and Carole L. Jurkiewicz, Louisiana State University.

  • Assessing Business Ethics Education (Information Age Publishing, 2011)

Edited by Swanson and Fisher, this book takes a wholistic look at the issue of assessing business ethics education in three ways.First, it provides a venue for scholars to share the innovative and creative ways that they are assessing business ethics education at both the course and program levels, including comparisons of curricula and criteria for program rankings. Second, it provides and outlet for leaders in the field to define learning objectives for ethics education and offer suggestions for what needs to be assessed and the means for doing so. Third, this book may be used not only as a guide to meet assessment needs in business schools, but also as a touchstone for examining the need for expanded and improved coverage of business ethics in the business classroom.

It is Swanson and Fisher's second one in the series, Ethics in Practice, edited by Robert A. Giacalone, Temple University, and Carole L. Jurkiewicz, Louisiana State University.

Articles on the Need for Business Ethics Education

  • “The Rise and Fall of CSR Education: The Curriculum Campaign” by Swanson, D. L.  & Fisher, D. G. in Corporate Responsibility Magazine, March/April, 2012.
  • "Socially Responsible Business Schools: Collective Stakeholder Voices Demand Urgent Actions" by Martell, J., Reproduced from Journal of World Universities Forum, Vol. 1, No. 6, 2008, 115-126, by permission of the author and Common Ground Publishing Pty Ltd. 
  • "Moral Education and Teaching Business Ethics in The Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society"by Swanson, D. L.,Kolb, R (Ed.). Sage Publications, 2008
  • Sidebar Feature on "Business Ethics Programs: Historical Perspective" by Swanson, D. L. Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics Report, July 2007
  • "Digging Deeper: The Laddering Interview for Surfacing Values" by Trocchia, P., Swanson, D. L., & Orlitzky, M. Journal of Management Education, 2007
  • "Accounting Education Lags CPE Ethics Requirements: Implications for the Profession and a Call to Action" by Fisher, D., Swanson, D. & Schmidt, J. Accounting Education: An International Journal's themed issue on CPD/E,2007
  • "A Call to Strengthen Proposed NASBA Ethics Requirements: A Three Step Formula, Compliance and Ethics" by Fisher, D. & Swanson, D. L.(included in the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy Board Meeting Report in January 2006, www.nasba.org), 2005
  • "Panel Discussion: The Role of Ethics in Business Curricula" by Swanson, D. L. Journal of Business Ethics Education, 2005
  • "Business Ethics Education at Bay: Addressing a Crisis of Legitimacy. Issues in Accounting Education" by Swanson, D. L. (also summarized in the 2005 National Association of State Boards of Accountancy Board Report), 2005
  • "Denial and Leadership in Business Ethics Education" by Swanson, D.L. & Frederick, W.C. Ferrell, O.C. & Peterson, B. (Eds) Business Ethics: The New Challenge for Business Schools and Corporate Leaders,M.E. Sharpe, 2005
  • "A Call to Strengthen Proposed NASBA Ethics Requirements: A Three Step Formula"by Fisher, D. & Swanson, D. L.  The Accounting Educator,2005
  • "The Buck Stops Here: Why Universities Must Reclaim Business Ethics Education" by Swanson, D. L. D. Reed & R. Wellen (Eds.) Special Issue on Universities and Corporate Responsibilities. Journal of Academic Ethics, Fall 2004
  • "An Open Letter to the Deans and Faculties of American Business Schools: A Call for Action" by Mitroff, I. & Swanson, D. Academy of Management News, 2004
  • "The Business of Ethics" by Swanson, D. K-Stater, 2004
  • "Business Education Puts Corporate Reputations at Risk" by Swanson, D. L. The Corporate Citizen, November 2003.
  • "CAMPAIGN AACSB: Are Business Schools Complicit in Corporate Corruption?" by Swanson, D. L. & Frederick, W. C. Journal of Individual Employment Rights, Fall 2003
  • "Are Business Schools Silent Partners in Corporate Crime?" by Swanson, D. L. & Frederick, W. C. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Spring 2003

Research Team

Business Ethics Education Audit

  • Co-investigator: Dr. Tammy MacLean, Suffolk University, tmaclean@suffolk.edu
  • Co-investigator: Dr. Barrie Litzky, Penn State Great Valley, barrielitzky@psu.edu
  • Consulting investigator: Dr. Sandra Waddock, Boston College, Center for Corporate Citizenship


Diane Swanson

Diane Swanson, Chair
Business Ethics Education Initiative

In the News 

Interviews and Press Releases

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Campaign AACSB

  • Are Business Schools Complicit in Corporate Corruption?

Speaking Engagements

  • Topeka Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Honorarium Speaker
  • The Role of Business Schools in Leading Corporate Ethics
  • Oregon State University Dean's Distinguished Speaker: College of Business
  • Colorado State University Honorarium Speaker: Japha Symposium on Ethics of Executive Compensation
  • AACSB International Teaching Business Ethics Conferences I & II (2004,2005)
  • Bill Daniels Business Ethics Workshop