For 10 years, Patricia Werhane has been organizing initiatives
at DePaul University that highlight the importance of weaving ethical decisions
throughout the university experience—and life.
The list of all she has accomplished over the past decade is varied and impressive, from leading the
Institute for Business and Professional Ethics (IBPE)
to writing influential articles and
books on ethics to participating in a documentary series about poverty aired on public television.
“I’ve been able to do all of that here, and I don’t think
that I could have done that at any other university,” says Werhane, reflecting on the 10th anniversary of her appointment
as managing director of the IBPE and Wicklander Chair in Business Ethics. “DePaul
has allowed me to work on the many projects I’m passionate about.”
One of Werhane’s latest endeavors, “Big Questions,” is a documentary film series that examines sustainable poverty alleviation
projects around the world, focusing primarily on those that help people become
independent without philanthropy. “We have seen that too much philanthropy can
be debilitating,” Werhane says. “The idea is to release people from dependence
on philanthropy, which, while always worthwhile, is not always continuous.”
The series grew out of a video Werhane filmed with Kim
Clark, an instructor in DePaul’s College of Communication, about grassroots
efforts to alleviate poverty in Bangladesh. That documentary caught the
attention of WNIT, the public television station in South Bend, Ind. The
station suggested a six-episode series, which aired in May and will be reshown
this fall. In addition to micro-lending in Bangladesh, the pieces focused on telemedicine in Ghana, school building
in Haiti, a leper colony in Tanzania, a women’s jail in Michigan and wage theft in Chicago. Laura Hartman,
Vincent de Paul Professor of Business Ethics, was also involved as co-host of the
“Our purpose was always to
record real-world, sustainable actions that are alleviating poverty, suffering
and injustice,” Werhane explained in a 2012 interview about the series.
“Every episode ends with a Vincentian challenge: What can you do about this issue? How
can you actually change the world?”
Werhane, who traveled widely for filming many of the
segments, will continue globetrotting this fall as a Fulbright Specialist.
Through the program, which matches scholars with academic institutions overseas,
she will head to All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland, for two weeks in
November to organize a business ethics program at the school.
When she is at DePaul, Werhane teaches in the philosophy and
management departments and concentrates on training professors in how to best teach
ethics in their classrooms. “The interesting thing is to get someone from
mathematics, art history, music or theater,” Werhane says. “We discovered in
workshops that a lot of faculty already are integrating ethics, but what they
need is more skillsets to help them do that better.” The Ethics Across the
Curriculum initiative was part of DePaul’s Vision 2012 strategic plan, and
Werhane will spearhead a survey next year to document a decade’s worth of
progress in integrating ethics at the university.
Werhane also is a prolific author. With Hartman and three
other co-authors, Werhane penned “Obstacles to Ethical Decision-Making”
(Cambridge University Press) this year.
She also coedited the recently released “Leadership Ethics,” a
three-volume collection (Sage Publication).
In addition to being involved throughout DePaul, Werhane is
well known in industry. In 2008, Ethisphere magazine named her one of the
100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics. Recently she received the
lifetime achievement award for outstanding contribution to scholarship from the
Society for Business Ethics. Werhane, who was one of the society’s founders and
who authored one of the first textbooks in business ethics in the 1970s, says
the recognition means a great deal.
“I’ve worked very hard in this field, and
it is a field that doesn’t have very many women in it, so it was a particular honor
What does DePaul’s Institute for Business and Professional Ethics Do?
- Offers corporate ethics roundtables twice a year
for leaders from local businesses. Involves members with DePaul through a
hosting duties for a yearly conference on business ethics with two other
Vincentian universities. DePaul will host the 20th annual conference, “Business Ethics in the 21st Century: The
Globalization of Corporate Responsibilities,” in Chicago Oct. 17-19.
a student scholarship sponsored by Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corporation and a
number of faculty fellowships for ethics projects within various fields.
- Runs the Business and Professional Ethics
Journal, a twice-yearly professional journal that features articles from the
a White Paper Database to translate academic articles into more-accessible formats.