I plan to start answering questions on Friday, August 20th.
I’m the Flanagan Family Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. I’m the author/co-author of fifteen books, including Business Ethics for Better Behavior (Oxford University Press, 2021), Why It’s OK to Want to Be Rich (Routledge, 2020), Cracks in the Ivory Tower (Oxford University Press, 2019) and In Defense of Openness (Oxford University Press, 2018). I work at the intersection of politics, philosophy, and economics, often focusing on the normative and empirical analysis of perverse incentives, on taboo markets, or on democratic theory. My most famous book is Against Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2016), and my books have been translated 25 times into 13 languages.
At Georgetown, I teach a range of courses, including “Managing Flawed People,” “Social Entrepreneurship, Non-Profits, and Effective Altruism,” “Business-Government Relations,” “The Structure of Global Industries,” and “The Moral Foundations of Market Society”.
I recently won a $2.1 million grant from the Templeton Foundation for a 3-year project on “Markets, Social Entrepreneurship, and Effective Altruism”. The funding will be used for visiting faculty, conferences, case competitions for social entrepreneurship projects, student research, pedagogical materials, and to fund the expansion of a social entrepreneurship project throughout our MBA program and at other universities.
The Ethics Project
The keystone project in each of my courses is the Ethics Project. You can read a lot more about it here and a little more about it here. Here is NBC Nightly News coverage of one student project.
The Ethics Project’s basic idea is simple:
Think of something good to do. Do it.
At the end of the semester, students, working in groups, are asked to make a presentation and write a report to answer a wide range of questions, including:
- How did you interpret the imperative to do something good, and why?
- How did you consider the trade-off between what’s best and what’s feasible?
- What was your opportunity cost?
- What obstacles did you expect to encounter, how did you plan for them, what obstacles did you in fact encounter, and how did you respond?
- Did you add value to the world, taking into account the value of your outputs and the costs of all of your inputs?
- Was your project a success, and how should we measure it?
- What did you learn and what would you do differently?
Student projects range from the profound to the mundane. For instance, some students helped teenagers in a poor country start their own business, which quadrupled their family income in a short period. Others have started their own businesses on campus—with the most successful grossing something like six figures over a few years with about a 33% margin. One group installed plumbing features which saved the university tens of thousands of dollars in wasted water per year. Others have conducted fundraisers (with the record now at about $17,000), run events, purchased goods for charities and schools, and more.
The Ethics Project is an excellent way to teach business ethics, management, philosophy, economics, and effective altruism, because rather than asking students to talk about ethics, it asks to students to learn by deliberating, acting, and then reflecting on what they did.
Ask me anything!
I’d be happy to answer questions on any of the topics I work on, teaching ethics and altruism, academic life, guitar/amp gear geekdom, work-life balance, or anything else you find of interest.