As you walk around Leeds, you might notice that CESR’s posters now look a little different. This April, Marc Prisant, chair of our Advisory Board, headed the decision to change CESR’s name from the Center for Education on Social Responsibility to the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility. Prisant proposed the name change after taking a hard look at our center’s values, mission, and teachings—all of which involve ethics.
“The new name more accurately describes what CESR is all about,” Prisant said. This issue was important to Prisant because of the daily pursuit of ethics and social responsibility in life and career by both he and his wife. Prisant is “hopeful that changing CESR’s name will attract students interested in ethics and social responsibility who will hopefully incorporate these teachings into their lives and careers.”
Dr. Mark Meaney, CESR’s Executive Director and Chair of the North America Chapter of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, supported the name change. He is the only trained ethicist on the Leeds faculty and holds a PhD in applied ethics. “I want CESR to be focused on outreach,” Meaney said. “Having the relationship it does with UN PRME, I want CESR to promote the Leeds School of Business globally and cultivate strong bonds with other schools so we can work together to help our students.” Meaney also wants CESR to help students foster their own fundamental values and bring these into team settings. He knows that most decisions aren’t black and white, especially those ethical in nature.
“We want to teach students how to deal with global issues through ethical problem solving where they are able to bring in their own values as well as consult with others to bring forth the best possible solution,” Meaney said.
CESR’s name change shows where we want to go as a center and what we want to focus on. With the belief that ethics and social responsibility are now at the forefront of many discussions, we wanted to engage with more people who share our passion of making the business world a more accountable, ethical, and socially responsible place. Although our name changed, we are still focused on upholding our four pillars: business ethics, corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability.
Social Responsibility and Ethics Certificate
Another difference you may notice is in the SRE certificate, which has been renamed from Socially Responsible Enterprise to Social Responsibility and Ethics. This change was also initiated by Marc Prisant. Prisant and his wife have close ties to the SRE Certificate and its students by virtue of their providing a generous scholarship: the Marc Prisant and Heidi Heltzel Scholarship for Ethics and Social Responsibility. Prisant suggested the SRE certificate name change to provide more clarity, consistency, and accuracy.
“Having the words ‘Social Responsibility and Ethics’ on any cover letter or résumé will set SRE students apart from others, as well as letting their future employers know they have experience with the subjects,” Prisant said. “By changing the name for the Center and Certificate, there is continuity in our message.”
Business Ethics and Social Impact Division
With the goal of integrating ethics and social responsibility into all education around campus, the decision was made to separate CESR and the faculty that teaches the curriculum we value, thus creating the Business Ethics and Social Impact Division (BESI). This division helps students understand that business is not just black and white; there are far more sides when dealing with ethical decisions within business. With graduate classes developed by CESR, BESI strives to focus on training ethical business leaders who will have a positive impact on our world.
While CESR and BESI are still connected, the independence gained from CESR’s separation has made it much easier for CESR to increase connections across Leeds and across campus. We can work with other centers and other organizations to integrate ethics and social responsibility into more curricula and into more organizations.
CESR Moving Forward
We want to promote the importance of ethics and social responsibility throughout Leeds, as we believe these values will help make our world and the world of business far more inclusive, fair, and accepting. We want CESR to promote Leeds globally through its relationship with UN PRME and hope it can lead to working partnerships with other universities and organizations in future. CESR and BESI still do the same work to promote the teaching of ethics and social responsibility to Leeds students as it did before, but the differentiation of the center and the faculty will lead to both parties being more effective. We are proud to be a part of what makes CU and Leeds unique and innovative, and we hope to help those interested in making the world a better place.