It is important, therefore to understand the different frameworks by which the ethics of an act can be evaluated.
The art of citizenship, as identified by Barber (no date), must taught as part of ones education. It also holds that practical experience is the best way to teach the art of citizenship. People learn about the consequences of their actions by attaching themselves to those consequences physically. In my case, the sheer volume of shoes that I had to sort made the point clear — I was helping people clothe themselves. Every box of childrens shoes I sent was a child that I helped to live a better life. We have a responsibility, Barber argues, to understand the implications of our actions on our communities.
The different approaches to ethics can also be studied through practical experience. It is social interaction that illustrates for us the outcomes of our actions, and provides a means by which we can better evaluate the ethics of our actions. Working with other people created strong social bonds and an understanding of different perspectives. We were each able to envision the good that our work was doing — we could easily transfer that skill into the business world. While the fundamental principles — the underlying theories — of ethics can certainly be taught, it is in the application of ethics that we are able to truly understand the ethical implications of our deeds. Many things in this world must be learned by doing — behaving with the highest ethical standards is one of those. Until we have had our ethics tested, we do not truly know how we will react. Thus, gaining practical experience that provides a guidepost for strong ethical standards and behavior is an essential component of ones education.
My experience at World Vision fit in well with the ethos of the Daniels College of Business. I value the ability to help others, and volunteer in my own time at World Vision as well. I understand the benefits of being able to contribute to my community. I see building social capital as an essential component not only of eudemonic self-fulfillment but also in building economic goodwill throughout the world. When we help others, we all benefit. The practical experience underlined much of what I learn academically about ethics as well — it allows me to put that learning into practice. As a result, I feel that experiences such as those in the CCP are essential to developing business leaders who share the Daniels ethos.
I sincerely feel that such volunteer work is a critical part of my professional development. I want to be involved in ethical organizations, and I want to be able to contribute posivitively to this world. The intersection between humanity and business is something that is perhaps not as well explored as it should be. Yet, commerce affects a number of angles at World Vision. The companies whose intellectual property rights were violated by those shoes needed to allow those shoes to be used in Africa to help; I saw directly the power of my own actions to help others.
World Vision often receives gifts in kind that must be put to use. In business, we are obviously going to be driven by financial considerations, but there are many opportunities for us to contribute to making the world a better place. Behaving ethically and making money are not mutually exclusive actions, as some of the work that World Vision does illustrates. The opportunities that are provided for people are directly reflective of the Hobbesian tradition of equality, and of our ability as leaders to tap into the hope that the feeling of equality gives to all people.
I cannot understate how valuable the experience with the CCP was for me. I feel that an experienced organization like World Vision does a fantastic job of marshalling resources and helping others. Consider the organizations origins — in Korea. In the 1950s the wartorn Korean Peninsula was a recipient of the first aid from World Vision. Today, South Korea is an important source of donations to help people in other Asian nations as they seek to improve their standing in the world. Korea is an important trading partner for us, and makes significant contributions to the betterment of life in Asia, as a leader in the region. These are precisely the sort of outcomes that World Vision wants to see and is evidence that improving social capital works for fostering economic gain for all.
My development is stronger as well for the experience. I met great people and I was able to feel great about my contribution to the lives of others. We all want to be part of something special, and that can happen even when pursuing commerce. It is important for somebody such as myself, a finance student, to remain in touch with the human side of business and the human side of our existence here on earth. Experiences such as this charitable volunteer work cannot help but to have a profound impact on how I will conduct myself in a leadership position.
Barber, B. (no date). A model program: Education-based community service at Rutgers University. In possession of the author.
CharityNavigator.org (2011). World Vision. Retrieved March 11, 2011 from http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4768
Daniels College of Business. (2011). Daniels today and tomorrow. University of Denver. Retrieved March 11, 2011 from http://www.daniels.du.edu/aboutus/missionvisionvalues.html
Fukuyama, F. (1999). Social capital and civil society. International Monetary Fund. In possession of the author.
Wittmer, D. (2004). Can ethics ever be taught? University of Denver. In possession of the author
World Vision 2010 Audited Financial Statement. Retrieved March 11, 2011 from http://www.worldvision.org/resources.nsf/Main/annual-review-2010-resources/$FILE/AR_2010AuditedFinancialStatement.pdf
WorldVision.org, various pages. (2011). Retrieved March 11, 2011 from http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/about/who-we-are.