Teaching Ethics in Africa: Giving Voice to Values

Mary C Gentile Giving Voice to valuesThis semester, Ashesi University College‘s newest class, the graduating class of 2014, will receive a gift.

It is the new practical ethics course we will be teaching this year, Giving Voice to Values, inspired by Dr. Mary C. Gentile, previously with Harvard Business School currently at Babson College .  Originally intended for MBA students, the GVV curriculum is available for free for educators.

In a nutshell Gentile in her Giving Voice to Values curriculum suggests that we all have values, the trick is how to voice them or “how to speak your mind when you know what’s right” as it is called in the book (see image).

She has through research found that the single most powerful factor making people  speak up against violations of their values is (No, not a solid upbringing nor a strong faith, but) practicing speaking up!

It is so simple when you think of it that it is absolutely brilliant!

Through learning about yourself, your personal so called enablers and disablers of speaking up –  but also the societal enablers and disablers –  through looking at complex ethical dilemmas and writing scripts on how one could address them, we are providing tools for our students to voice their values in everyday situations here in Ghana.

Last semester, a working group modified the Giving Voice to Values curriculum to the Ghanaian, undergraduate student. We wrote new cases involving “your classmate” and “your uncle” rather than “your employee” and “your CEO” and thought of values conflict situations with a Ghanaian and undergraduate twist, one for instance focusing on family ties, another on plagiarism. I did a pilot of this new program in my leadership class, had a good personal learning curve  and many interesting and eyeopening practical discussions on ethics with my students.

As Ashesi’s mission centers around educating ethical leaders (see for instance this earlier post highlighting ethics at Ashesi), I am excited to see this course being rolled out to the whole freshman class this year and happy to be a member of the initiating team.

Gentile’s book on Giving Voice to Values is just now out, but while waiting for it to be shipped to you, do read this intresting interview with Mary C. Gentile on I’ve Been Mugged-blog.

Now over to you, how do you discuss and practice ethics in your organization/family/workplace?

Pic borrowed from the Giving Voice to Values book-site.