Journalist Sonia Shah
LONGMEADOW, Mass.—With the recent involvement from state officials to regulate and ban drug and medical device manufacturers from providing incentives, such as gifts, lunches, and even payments, to physicians, and as Americans face economic challenges, there has been an increasing focus on the role of ethics in decision-making and behavior. Whether it is the inability to recognize right or wrong or the failure to take action, ethics has become a critical component in our day-to-day lives—both professionally and personally. Through the Program for Leadership and Integrity in Action, as well as ethics courses in specific majors, Bay Path College undergraduate and graduate students are given the opportunity to develop their ethical “tool box” through awareness, case studies, and discussion.
“It is important, especially in today’s society, that we give our students a solid ethical foundation,” said Ellen Rustico, Bay Path Ethics Committee member and assistant professor of education. “By providing them a basis for appropriate actions, our students will make a difference in their communities and in the lives of others.
The Program for Leadership and Integrity in Action is the cornerstone of Bay Path’s efforts in ethical learning and leadership. Funded by local businessman T. Marc Futter, the Program will welcome investigative journalist Sonia Shah on March 24 at 7 p.m. in Mills Theatre, Carr Hall on Bay Path’s Longmeadow campus. In her book, The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients, Shah examines pharmaceutical companies who have outsourced clinical research and drug trials to developing countries, where patients are abundant and ethical practices are often overlooked. Shah will discuss the decisions these patients encounter, such as participate in a drug trial that can do harm or face death due to the lack of available treatments. The event is free and open to the public.
In addition to an annual speaker series that focuses on current ethical dilemmas, the Program includes an Honors Pledge that all first-year students sign. Endorsed by students at Convocation—a September event celebrating the opening of the College—the Honors Pledge requires students to commit to acts of honesty, integrity and respect, as well as take responsibility for their actions.
Beyond the Program for Leadership and Integrity in Action, Bay Path’s Honors Program course, Ethics in Conflict, takes a multi-disciplinary approach to investigate the sources of ethical values, such as religion and philosophy. Through guided discussion and cases studies rooted in contemporary issues, students begin to develop their ethical framework—recognition and reasoning.
As part of the College’s ongoing effort to address current ethical issues, undergraduate business students and Master of Business Administration in Innovative Practices and Entrepreneurial Thinking students recently received a lesson in ethics from Helen and S. Prestley Blake, co-founder of the Friendly Ice Cream Corporation and Bay Path Trustee Emeritus. The Blakes discussed the recent Harvard Business School Case Study, Shareholder Activists at Friendly Ice Cream, and their role in investigating the company’s business operations and ethics. The Blakes took unprecedented action to “save” Friendly Ice Cream and leveraged their role as shareholders to demand accountability. Through their efforts, they established new corporate leadership, restored Friendly’s to a company of high ethical standards, strong financial standing, and an example of good governance for other companies.
Students and guests embraced the Blakes' story, and like their Harvard counterparts, gave the Blakes a standing ovation for showing them how to be ethical activisits.