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Values Before Economics

As we’ve gone through orientation and our first week of classes, I’ve noticed how we’re being introduced to the values that define Yale SOM – in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. On our first day of classes, we opened that morning’s Wall Street Journal to see an article written by three of our professors, Rodrigo Canales, B. Cade Massey, and Amy Wrzesniewski titled, Promises Aren’t Enough: Business Schools Need to Do a Better Job Teaching Students Values. The article discusses “The MBA Oath,” and the need to adequately prepare students to be ethical leaders beyond simply signing a pledge to be ethical. While we’re being challenged to think through our own values and how to be ethical leaders, it’s exciting that our professors here are also challenging their colleagues at other business schools and in the broader business community to re-consider these issues.During orientation, we heard from Andrea Levere ’83, President of the Corporation for Enterprise Development. She explained how the relatively simple steps of setting up savings accounts for children and providing their families with basic financial training make an enormous difference in college graduation rates for those children years later. Message: you’ll be learning about finance, but first, here are some of the powerful ways financial knowledge can be used to affect social change. We’ve all also had our first classes in Problem Framing, a course that encourages us to examine problems from multiple viewpoints and to understand how issues are presented and how that influences our thinking. It seems our entire business school education here is being framed at the outset by certain values. I can begin to see how these will become imprinted on each of us. So, what does it mean to be part of the Yale SOM community? We’re just starting out, but I like where this is going. From these examples and numerous others, it’s clear that values are at the foundation of what SOM is all about. I’ve been inspired nearly every day by the people here, and their diverse interests and experiences. It’s been an intense beginning – this past week I’ve often felt like I’m just trying to keep my head above water. I’m definitely being stretched and challenged in many ways, but that’s why I’m here.