Concentration in Ethics, Business and Economics

Why ethics?

The need for ethical behaviour within business and economics is highlighted by numerous cases where CEOs and other business leaders have abused positions of power to gain personal benefit. Making the right decisions and acting ethically is complicated when personally involved. Regulation and industry oversight helps avoid these situations; a strong grounding in ethics helps personal actions.

This stream is intended for students in the Beedie School of Business, or those who are majoring in economics.

Ethics, business and economics in the news

  • Although 'PharmaBro' CEO, Martin Shkreli was convicted on securities fraud charges, how ethical were his actions in raising prices on Daraprim, used to treat toxoplasmosis, by more than 5,000%?
  • What about insider trading—is it ethical or not to make money from upcoming corporate events that the average person knows nothing about? Courts found both Jeffrey Skilling (Enron) and Martha Stewart guilty of gaining from material, nonpublic information to benefit from stock exchange dealings.
  • Is it right to cover up business practices that hide pollution? US courts found Oliver Schmidt guilty of fraudulent business practices that hid VW diesel emissions data from regulators. 
  • “The frequency of ethical lapses among executives suggests that there exists an alternate moral framework in corporate culture, which might create its own “special norms.”

Elective Courses

In addition to three core courses in ethical theory (9-10 units), students complete three elective courses drawn from a stream in their subject interest (9-12 units). Elective courses often include courses already in their subject major.

Note: courses may change - for a complete list of the certificate requirements and the approved courses, please consult the calendar entry.

Students complete three of (click + to show courses):

BUS 233 – Introduction to Business Law and Ethics (3) +J/L
BUS 303 - Business, Society and Ethics (3)
BUS 432 - International Human Resource Management (3)
BUS 449 - Ethical Issues in Marketing (3)
BUS 483 – Introduction to Employment Law for Business (4)
CRIM 336 - Corporate Crime and Corporate Regulation (3)
ECON 342 - International Trade (3)
ECON 354 - Comparative Economic Institutions (3)
ECON 355W - Economic Development (4)
ECON 392 - Public Economics: Role of Government (3)
GSWS 308 - Women in the Economy: Paid and Unpaid Labour (4) +GJ
GSWS 350 – Public Policy for Women (3)

Read more?

How do business leaders deal with ethical dilemmas? At some point in our careers, most of us will have to make tricky ethical decisions. How do you examine the issue and figure out what to do?
“In a perfect world, it’s always clear what’s right or wrong. In the real world, things are often not so clear. Someone’s wrong can be your right, which means your right will definitely, at some point, be someone else’s wrong. Most of the time the “right” choice can be subjective.”

“High-profile downfalls of corporate CEOs are not a new phenomenon. But legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley makes corporate oversight and protection of shareholder rights by the board of directors a priority. It also uncovers an increasingly alarming set of CEO ethics violations, many of which land the corporate head in jail.”

Read more about the Volkswagen emissions scandal:

Year in Review: Top 10 Business Ethics Stories of 2015

Business Ethics News, Curated by Chris MacDonald & Alexei Marcoux

More curated content in Ethical Dilemmas on Flipboard

Image attributions:
i. icon created by Laymik for The Noun Project CC-BY
ii. By Alankitassigments [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons