Second-year students were among many to attend a September 16 lecture by Michael Novak, theologian and author of Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life. Novak’s book was required reading for sophomores in the College this fall, along with excerpts from Thomas L. Friedman’s The World Is Flat.
Professor Margot O’Brien, who incorporated Novak’s book in her business law course, said that the readings present students with an appreciation for the many benefits business provides to society and individuals.
Judging by their questions at the lecture, students are thinking both broadly and deeply. When Novak argued that “business is the most strategically central vocation for social justice in our time,” they asked: Is economic development an automatic good? Do we lose spiritual values in material pursuits?
“Professor Novak’s insights made me think critically about ways that for-profit enterprise is often stereotyped,” said sophomore Matthew Smith. “I can now confidently discuss the ethics and merits of pursuing a career in business.”
The World is Flat looks not at ethical choices but change, and ways technology and “Globalization 3.0” are “shrinking the world from a size small to a size tiny and flattening the playing field at the same time,” according to the author.
The implications for business are huge, but students who got their reading done will be a little better prepared for what’s coming.