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The Ethics Sage Addresses Harvard Cheating Scandal

 

The Ethics Sage Addresses Harvard Cheating Scandal

Should Students who cheated at Harvard be Rewarded or Punished? – Ethics Sage

I do think the students violated the rules in this case and should be held accountable for their actions. However, there were mitigating circumstances not the least of which was from the teaching assistants who seemed to work with those students who came forward asking for help to interpret information and develop responses to test questions.

Perhaps the lesson to be learned from the Harvard cheating scandal is we, in academe, need a new approach to evaluating the benefits and potential harms of collaboration. It can be a great teaching tool and mirrors collaborative effort in the workplace. Test questions in a collaborative enivornment can better assess analytical reasoning and critical thinking skills, two skills essential for success in today’s workplace.

The level playing field argument is key in evaluating the use and purpose of student collaboration. Academic integrity is at stake. Collaborative effort may impair fairness in the grading process unless collaboration is expected of all students. Otherwise, those who “play by the rules” may receive lower grades because they worked individually while those who shared information may benefit from such an approach.

Should Students who cheated at Harvard be Rewarded or Punished? – Ethics Sage

The Ethics Sage, Steven Mintz, discusses the Harvard cheating scandal in his latest post. I find his reasoning compelling and I agree in full with his ethical reasoning in this case. The students’ instructions from their various teaching assistants were less than clear. Further, the modern technique of collaborative learning needs more in depth ethical analysis, and clearer rules. It’s a good piece of work. Don’t be satisfied with this brief section. Go to the Ethics Sage’s web site and read it in full and while you’re there sign up for e-mail alerts for later essays.

James Pilant

From around the web –

From the web site, Janitorial Musings:

Unfortunately, I suspect they’ll find that achieving and maintaining fame and fortune requires just as much corner-cutting as getting their grades at school. After all, those same kids who have no qualms with cheating in school soon enter the business world. And those who tell themselves that they are only cheating to keep up with the cheaters will tell themselves that they must do the same outside of academics. I’ve been involved in a part of business–not as a janitor–where I was surprised to learn how many ways and how often our competitors would do small dishonest things to get the edge over us. It made me think: if people are this dishonest with the small things, I wonder whether it is all the more so with bigger things? (Maybe not. I recall seeing a report that said in relationships men are more likely to lie about small things they deem unimportant and women are more likely to lie about big things they deem important. Maybe when it comes to big things in the business world, people are less likely to be dishonest?)

From the web site, Erik B. Wilson:

Indeed cheating in academia is nothing new and to view this particular instance as somehow extraordinary within greater academia would be naïve. That is not to say that systematic cheating is widespread at Harvard, but odds are there have been plenty of cheaters in Harvard’s history as an institution. Perhaps they were single students acting alone, perhaps they were groups that went unnoticed, but doubtless they did exist. The school’s reputation is of course the underlying factor that makes this story so noteworthy – it is quite difficult to imagine a similar ruckus concerning cheating at a local community college. There is an assumption about Harvard, a presumed integrity that goes along with the status and prestige of the Harvard name, one that places the members of the student body somehow above cheating. However, these students and their actions are informed by society writ large – they do not stand apart from it. And as such if we seek to understand the incentives that compel cheating we must consider the social fabric in which they are embedded.

And finally, from the web site, phoebecurran:

After news broke of the collaborative cheating efforts of over 120 students in an “Introduction to Congress” course at Harvard University last spring, the honesty and conduct of college students are being questioned. University students are typically young, but surely old enough to know right from wrong.

Eric Kester, a recent Harvard graduate, wrote a memoir, published in July, which details many instances where dishonesty dominated good character throughout his four years at the university. He said there were a number of take-home tests that were completed with group efforts, notes passed in bathrooms during exams, and research papers written and sold. Kester said he never cheated, but he certainly understood the pressures that came along with an Ivy league education.

 

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Ants and Lions in Entrepreneurship

Ants and Lions in Entrepreneurship

What They Don’t Teach in Business School about Entrepreneurship – YouTube

This is from the Stanford School of Business, a panel discussion from the 2010 Conference on Entrepreneurship. This video is deliciously titled “What they don’t teach you in Business School about Entrepreneurship.”
The discussion about “ants and lions” comes along about thirty minutes in. Don’t miss it. It’s perceptive. The panelists are Mike Cassidy, Chuck Holloway, and Nazila Alasti.
James Pilant
From around the web –
The Lion?

The Lion?

From the web site, Center for Entrepreneurship:

The previous blog  introduced two important questions any time-management process starts with. Here are a few tricks I found useful when aligning our time investments to our core objectives and principal goals.

But, the challenge of an entrepreneur and change leader is she is pulled in all different directions at the same time, which makes it extremely difficult to continually create success. Instead of racing and gaining, the entrepreneur lies on her back and is trampled by ants.  Every day is filled with tens and hundreds of actions and activities all of which seem important somehow, but together nearly immobilize her. Like with so many, the passion slowly drains out of the entrepreneur, and her goals start fading. Instead of looking to the big goals, moving forward, the small things in life take over.

From the web site, Arnonuemann – Thought Leadership: (I highlighted the text beneath the pretty graph and the graph came with it. It looks nice, so I’m keeping it but if there is a problem, let me know and I’ll pull it immediately. jp)

Lessons from the ants : all for one ( mission ) and one is there for all ….

“But ants aren’t nature’s only high-functioning teams. Packs of wolfs, pods of dolphins, and prides of lions all share remarkable strategies in terms of leadership, connectivity, execution and organization. For nature’s teams, mission matters most. Bioteams are the physical manifestation of a mission. They organize on the fly, adjust strategies in real-time and redefine membership based on environmental demands. Just Google “unicoloniality” to learn more about how some of nature’s teams inherently understand what many human teams essentially do not: membership is a function of achieving the mission and not the other way around.”

And finally from the web site, IllimunationZZ:
There is so much confusion in the air. A lot of people do not even know what they want in Nigeria and you can’t really blame them! Do people have ambitions any longer or they just want to work and get salaries on pay day? Are there counselors aiding, guiding, and moulding the interests of young students in primary and secondary schools; and in Universities? Are parents interested in, and supportive of their children’s ambitions or they just want to bask in the vicarious “glory” of those big names (Engr, Esq, Dr, Pharm, Arch…) for their own ego fulfillment? Are there still career fairs in our secondary schools and tertiary institutions? The system is so dysfunctional that we are busy struggling to accept anything slapped on us simply because there is a salary. Each time I watch National Geographic Channel, the question I keep asking myself is: “how is it that a human being dedicate his / her life time to studying butterflies, ants, birds, lions etc if not passion?” Let s/he who has a passion to bake cakes go on to become a brand; let s/he who loves flowers go on to become a brand florist; let s/he who loves to bake bread go on to become a household baker; let s/he who wants to be a great restaurateur go on to cook great meals; let s/he who sees a niche in mobile toilets go on to fill the void, let s/he who wants to be a great photographer go on to capture the memories etc. That will be Entrepreneurship and it won’t matter if you have chains of degrees or not. Passion would be the catalyst but certainly not running to grab a steering out of frustration from not getting relevant jobs.
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The Principles of Occupy Harvard

 

I have printed these in full from the Occupy Harvard Web Site. I believe that Occupy Harvard wanted its principles published in full as widely as possible. If I am mistaken in this, please let me know and I will remove the document or cut it down to “Fair Use” size of a paragraph or so.

James Pilant

University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni Sch...

Image via Wikipedia

 

Statement of Principles

We are Occupy Harvard. We want a university for the 99%, not a corporation for the 1%.

We are here in solidarity with the Occupy movement to protest the corporatization of higher education, epitomized by Harvard University.

We see injustice in the 180:1 ratio between the compensation of Harvard’s highest-paid employee—the head of internal investments at Harvard Management Company—and the lowest-paid employee, an entry-level custodial worker. We see injustice in Harvard’s adoption of corporate efficiency measures such as job outsourcing. We see injustice in African land grabs that displace local farmers and devastate the environment. We see injustice in Harvard’s investment in private equity firms such as HEI Hotels and Resorts, which profits off the backbreaking labor of a non-union immigrant workforce. We see injustice in Harvard’s lack of financial transparency and its prevention of student and community voice in these investments.

We stand in solidarity with Occupy Boston and the other occupations throughout the country. We stand in solidarity with students at other universities who suffer crushing debt burdens and insufficient resources. We stand in solidarity with the students who occupied Massachusetts Hall one decade ago, and we continue their pursuit of justice for workers. We stand in solidarity with all those in Boston and beyond who clamor for equity. We are the 99%.

A university for the 99% must settle a just contract with Harvard’s custodial workers. A university for the 99% must adopt a new transparency policy, including disclosure of Harvard’s current investments as well as a commitment to not reinvest in HEI Hotels & Resorts or in land-grabbing hedge funds like Emergent Asset Management. Further,

  • A university for the 99% would offer academic opportunities to assess responses to socioeconomic inequality outside the scope of mainstream economics.
  • A university for the 99% would implement debt relief for students who suffer from excessive loan burdens.
  • A university for the 99% would commit to increasing the diversity of Harvard’s graduate school faculty and students.
  • A university for the 99% would end the privilege enjoyed by legacies in the Harvard admissions process.
  • A university for the 99% would implement a policy requiring faculty to declare conflicts of interest.

Our statement of principles is subject to change by the Occupy Harvard General Assemblies.

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Business Ethics Roundup 10/11/2011

1. The Ethics Sage has a new post on the civility movement at Harvard  entitled –

Harvard University Jumps on the Civility Bandwagon

Here’s a key paragraph:

The fact is administrators at Harvard are pressuring the Class of 2015 to do something no other student class has ever been asked to do in 375 years: Sign a civility pledge. The “Class of 2015 Freshman Pledge” was presented to students before an opening convocation last month. The message serves as a kind of moral compass for the education Harvard imparts. In the classroom, in extracurricular endeavors, and in Harvard Yard and Houses, students are expected to act with integrity, respect, and industry, and to sustain a community characterized by inclusiveness and civility. The “Pledge” idea seems a bit odd to me. Is Harvard saying its students have not acted civilly up until now? Has Harvard ignored civic virtue in its teachings?

It’s a good article. Certainly, I think a few more pledges in the direction of civility and morality are merited. The current American ethos seems to be heavily drawn from Milton Friedman and Gordon Gekko, in equal parts.

2. Professor Chris MacDonald writing in the Business Ethics Blog has an article intriguingly entitled –

Bullying in Pursuit of the Public Good

This would be my preference for the key paragraph – not as lively as some of the others but it contains the heart of the message – Don’t assume one side is right all the time.

Now most people are generally not very worried about major corporations, or large institutions of any kind, being bullied. And it’s easy enough to understand why. We’re usually more worried about corporations having too much power, rather than too little. But to uniformly celebrate victories of NGOs over corporations is to assume that NGOs are always right. And that’s a mistake. It’s also a mistake to assume that NGOs are in any important sense democratic, or automatically representative of the public interest.

3. Lauren Bloom writing in her blog has a new article called –

A Loving Tribute to Steve Jobs

This is the best paragraph –

But the thing that keeps coming to my mind as I think about Steve Jobs was his dedication to creating extraordinary products that inspired unprecedented customer devotion. Everyone uses cell phones, computers, and other portable electornic devices these days, but if I hear someone say they “absolutely love” one of those devices, more often than not it turns out to be an Apple product. And while cartoons aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, film buffs who enjoy animation typically love Pixar movies. One might disagree on which of Pixar’s films is the best (my personal favorite is Ratatouille but my brother lobbies hard for The Incredibles), but to my recollection, there’s been something to love about every movie Pixar has ever produced.

4. Josephson on Business Ethics and Leadership has an article called –

Hunger and Poverty: Consequences of deregulating food markets

Millions of poor people are starving in famines right now because the U.S. has relaxed regulations on commodities trading over the past 10 years. Into the breach have rushed financial companies like Goldman Sachs that poured millions of dollars into food commodities trading, in pursuit of short-term profits. In the process, they’ve created artificially soaring food prices that affect the whole world.

As went tech stocks in the 90s, and housing prices in the 00s, the price of food is now set on a financial bubble.  And human agony and death is the result.

I wish the author had developed the topic in more detail. I fell like I was in the middle of a good strong read and then was cut off in the middle.

James Pilant

 

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