Verbum Incarnatum

TEACHING ACCOUNTING ETHICS AT UIW
AN INTROSPECTIVE COMMENTARY ON THE SCHOLARSHIP OF TEACHING AND APPLICATION

Henry Elrod
University of the Incarnate Word

Abstract

We should be teaching ethics to our business accounting students, and the appropriate ethics course is approved by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, and includes “ethical reasoning, integrity, objectivity, independence and other core values.” This paper examines the genesis of the course ACCT 4318, Ethics for Accounting and Business, currently offered in the H-E-B School of Business and Administration accounting curriculum.  Can ethics be taught? The weltanschauungs (world-views) of some students can be changed. The thrust of the course is for students to develop systematic and rational processes for identification of stakeholders, identification of operational issues presented in cases, and identification of alternative courses of action to evaluate in terms of ethical thought. Students read parts of Catholic doctrine and write précis of parts of the Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching (1986). In addition to the case analyses students write two essays early in the course describing the structure, process and purposes of an essay, and the systematic and rational process they intend to use for case analysis. The course has received peer review approval from the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, and is designed to acquaint accounting students with the fundamentals of the Code of Professional Conduct of the accounting profession. The course uses the case method in a seminar classes to develop students’ skills in writing, analysis, and critical thinking. Students look past their preconceived notions of right and wrong, examine the consequences of actions in light of the major concepts of ethical thought, and conduct ethical reasoning.

Teaching Accounting Ethics At UIW
An Introspective Commentary On The Scholarship Of Teaching And Application

     We cannot hide that which will not be hidden. We should be teaching ethics to our business students. As the coordinator of the concentration in Accounting in the BBA degree here at UIW, I came to that conclusion at about the same time as did the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, largely as a reaction to the accounting and auditing scandal at Enron. On August 16, 2002, the Board revoked Arthur Andersen LLP’s license to practice public accountancy in the State of Texas (TSBPS, 2002). Given the purpose of familiarizing students with the fundamental disciplines of business, both in a context of relevance and in the inspiration of our Judeo-Christian values, we must face the facts. As Aesop would have us understand, the (broken) horn will speak for itself, though the goat be silent.

ΚΚΚΚ In his book Good to Great, Collins (2001) urges confronting the “brutal truth.” The history of business in the United States includes a history of scandal, fraud, and deceit.