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Business Ethics for the Real World is a Course

Business Ethics for the Real World

Ended Dec 13, 2015

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Full course description

Starts August 10, 2015

This course is a self-paced course which may be taken at anytime the course is open. It is designed to provide an introduction to the subject of ethical behavior in business from a professor who has taught business ethics to graduate business students at Santa Clara University for 14 years and Stanford Graduate School of Business for 23 years. This course provides an understanding of the nature of ethics, the role ethics plays in business, and the most commonly encountered ethical dilemmas in a business career. It provides practical advice on how to identify ethical dilemmas when they arise, how to get enough information to assess one’s responsibilities, how to analyze a complex ethical choice, and how to marshal one’s own resources and courage to act ethically. While the course includes some ethical theory, it is designed to be approachable by those who have no prior knowledge of business ethics, whether they are students, new employees, seasoned managers, or individuals who want a general understanding of business ethics. No specific background or preparation is necessary. It takes approximately 8 hours to complete. This course is one of two short courses offered by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics on business ethics. Those who complete this course will receive a letter of completion sent by email and digital badge from the instructor.

See also “Creating an Ethical Corporate Culture" available on the Canvas Network.

Topics covered include:

  • Module One: Introduction to Business Ethics
  • Module Two: Roles and Ethics
  • Module Three: Dilemmas and Decisions
  • Module Four: Ethical Decision Models


There are no essential prerequisite skills required in this course.

Textbook and Material

There is no textbook required in this course. You are not required to pay for course materials.

Course Expectations

This course is self-paced. To be successful, you should plan about two hours per module to interact with the course content, which includes introducing yourself, watching the video vignettes, posting to case discussions, completing and posting to exercises, taking end-of-module quizzes, submitting an 400 word ethical analysis, and completing peer reviews of three other student ethics analyses. Further instruction is provided with in each module and in the Student Overview Module that lists the course requirements.


Instructor will not grade any quizzes or discussions.

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Kirk Hanson

Kirk O. Hanson

Executive Director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Kirk O. Hanson is one of the founders of the field of business ethics. The executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, Hanson taught business ethics for 23 years in the MBA and Executive Programs of the Stanford Business School, where he is Senior Lecturer Emeritus. He continues to teach MBA and EMBA courses on business ethics at Santa Clara, where he heads one of the most active ethics centers in the world, with extensive programs in business ethics, government ethics, bioethics, Internet ethics, and character education.

Hanson speaks widely, writes on managing the ethical and public behavior of corporations and is frequently quoted in the press on business ethics issues. He co-edited a four-volume series released in 2006 entitled The Accountable Corporation. His current research interests include the design of corporate ethics programs and incentives for employees to act ethically, and the responsibility of boards for the ethical culture of the organization.

Hanson serves as Honorary Chair of the Center for International Business Ethics in Beijing, China’s first center on business ethics, and on the board of the Skoll Community Fund, one of two entities which comprise the Skoll Foundation, which pioneered the concept of social entrepreneurship. In 1995 he received the John Gardner Leadership Award from the American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley and in 2007 the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education for contributions to business and society.

Hanson is a graduate of Stanford University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He held research fellowships and appointments at the Yale Divinity School and the Harvard Business School prior to beginning his academic career.