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04-29-2005

Clarkson MBA Students Claim First Prize At Ethics Competition

What role do food conglomerates play in the growing problem of obesity? A team of Clarkson MBA students recently addressed this question in an annual ethics competition hosted by Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. Moving beyond traditional stakeholder analysis which has often been criticized for turning business ethics into an oxymoron, the team drew on classic writings from moral philosophy to distinguish themselves and their argument from the Saint Michael’s College, University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire, and Concordia University teams.  MBA ethics

 Specifically, the competition required teams to present both written and oral arguments concerning Kraft Foods’ role and responsibility in relation to the societal problem of obesity. Among the recommendations made by the team for Kraft: Establish a wellness committee to engage in a dialogue with community leaders and interested public interest groups about root causes of obesity; assume a more proactive role in educating the public about healthy eating habits; provide content warning labels urging responsible consumption and outlining health risks associated with unbalanced diets; work to reduce serving sizes through repackaging and appropriately scaled illustrations on product packaging, and collaborate with other global food companies to share information and identify best practices. 

 This year’s team improved the second-place performance by Clarkson at the same competition last year. According to Peter Diplock, director of Graduate Business Programs, “Our success has everything do with the caliber and work ethic of our MBA students, and the conscious effort to expose our students to the ethical implications of decision making in organizations, whenever and wherever possible throughout the curriculum.” While efforts at integrating ethics into Clarkson’s  curriculum are ongoing, next year will see the addition of a required course in Professional Ethics. The course will be taught by philosophy professor Bill Vitek, director of the Clarkson Ethics Initiative. The focus on ethics is only a part of what is a central feature of the Clarkson MBA experience, with a broader focus on social responsibility.  “Our MBA students regularly engage in community -based activities, and the fact that this year’s team will donate 20% of the $1,000 first-place prize to charity (United Way of St. Lawrence County) speaks volumes about the character and leadership exhibited by our students,” says Diplock.

 PHOTO CAPTION:  Clarkson University MBA students (L-R) Chad Moore, Srabonti Ganguly, Sachin Aggarwal, and Erik Johnson recently won the annual ethics competition hosted by St. Michael’s College in Vermont. The team plans to donate 20% of their first-place prize to the United Way of St. Lawrence County.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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