NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Fall 2011

Instructor Details

Simon, Gary



Tuesday/Thursday noon to 1:30 p.m.

KMC 8-53


Course Meetings

T, 4:55pm to 6:10pm

Tisch T-UC07

Final Exam:

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on: Tuesday, October 11
    Class will meet on: all other Tuesdays from September 6 to December 13, including November 22 (the Tuesday just before Thanksgiving)



In the Social Impact Core Curriculum, NYU Stern undergraduate students: 



Professional Responsibility and Leadership is an interdisciplinary capstone course that builds on prior coursework within the Social Impact Core Curriculum as well as other coursework both at Stern and in other NYU colleges. 

In this course, students have the opportunity to pursue the following learning objectives:  1) to become more familiar with the variety of ethical dilemmas that can arise in the course of business practice; 2) to understand the different values and principles that can inform and guide decisions in such ambiguous situations; and 3) to gain experience articulating and defending courses of action that are coherent with their own values. 

The basic format of the course is a discussion seminar.  Each class session may include a variety of activities, including:  discussion, in-class reading and writing, role-playing, and other participatory exercises.  These various activities will be designed and facilitated by the instructor in order to allow students to engage in reflective dialogue with each other. 

The overarching themes of this dialogue include:  1) the relationship between business and society on a global, national and local basis; 2) the foundations of personal and professional business ethics; and 3) the exercise of leadership in organizations.  

These themes are developed in reference to a series of cases that have been either drawn from recent news reports on business practice or drafted specifically for this course by NYU Stern faculty.  These cases will typically be provided in class by the instructor to the students, then read and interpreted collectively. 

The course readings provide lenses through which to view and interpret the cases.  Drawn primarily from classic works of philosophy, literature, psychology, legal studies and theology, these readings inform the class discussions and allow students to synthesize the case material and exercise reflective judgment about how they would act in similar situations.  These readings are posted on Blackboard, and students are expected to come to class having read them and reflected on their meaning with respect to the topics addressed in that class session. 

The course proceeds cumulatively so that all themes, cases and readings inform subsequent discussions.


Written Assignments

Students will complete two 5-7 page papers (typed in 12-point font and double spaced with 1” margins) that analyze issues introduced in the course, synthesize these issues in reference to the cases and the readings, and present reflective judgments about ethical action in business and organizational contexts.  Specific topics for these papers will be assigned in class.

Papers will be graded for both content and quality of writing; the grading breakdown appears below.  

All students are required to turn their papers in using the Assignments tab in Blackboard.  Integrated in Blackboard is an online plagiarism prevention and detection software – Turnitin – that enables faculty to compare the content of submitted assignments to data on the Internet, commercial databases, and previous papers submitted to the system. Additional information about expectations regarding academic integrity appears below.


NYU Stern Grading Policies

Course Grading

At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate differential mastery of the subject matter. Assigning grades that reward excellence and reflect differences in performance is important to ensuring the integrity of our curriculum.  In core courses, our faculty have adopted a standard of rigor for teaching where: 

Note that while we use these ranges as a guide, the actual distribution for this course (as well as each individual grade) will depend upon how well each student actually performs in this course.  Please see www.stern.nyu.edu/undergraduate/grading "Teaching and Grading at the NYU Stern Undergraduate College” for more information. 

In line with Grading Guidelines for the NYU Stern Undergraduate College, the process of assigning of grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. This means that students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.  If a student feels that an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have that grade re-evaluated may be submitted. Students should submit such requests in writing to the professor within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why he or she believes that an error in grading has been made. 

Grade Breakdown and Evaluation Criteria

Class Discussion                                 40%

Written Assignments                           60% 

Class discussion will be graded using the following rubric: 





A student receiving a 6 comes to class prepared; contributes readily to the conversation but doesn’t dominate it; makes thoughtful contributions that advance the conversation; shows interest in and respect for others’ views; participates actively in small groups.


A student receiving a 5 comes to class prepared; makes thoughtful comments when called upon; contributes occasionally without prompting; shows interest in and respect for other’ views; participates actively in small groups.


A student receiving a 4 comes to class prepared, but does not voluntarily contribute to discussions and gives only minimal answers when called upon.  Such students show interest in the discussion, listening attentively and taking notes.  They may also participate fully in small group discussions.


A student receiving a 3 participates in discussion, but in a problematic way.  Such students may talk too much, make rambling or tangential contributions, interrupt others with digressive questions, or bluff when unprepared.  Such students also participate actively in small groups.


A student receiving a 2 does not come to class prepared; does not contribute to discussion voluntarily or when called upon; and does not participate in small group discussions.  Such students may listen attentively but fail to contribute due to lack of preparation.


A student receiving a 1 disrupts class discussion, whether actively by being negative or rude to others, or passively by appearing distracted, bored or sleepy.


A group of professional writing coaches has been hired to provide students with feedback to improve their writing skills. Writing coaches will hold office hours prior to each section’s paper deadline. Students who are interested in receiving feedback on their writing prior to submitting their assignments are encourage to contact an “on duty” writing coach to schedule an appointment. (The schedule and email contact information will be posted on Blackboard.) Writing coaches will read and evaluate paper drafts in terms of the following criteria:

Coaches will provide comments on the paper to the student and send a summary of the comments to the instructor.  Instructors will evaluate final submissions and may or may not take these comments about the writing process into consideration as they exercise judgment about the quality of the finished product and assign grades accordingly.

Whatever topic the papers might address, their contents should show evidence of practical reasoning that integrates three distinct, though interrelated forms of thought (adapted from Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Profession, Anne Colby, Thomas Ehrlich, William M. Sullivan & Jonathan Dolle (2011):

The instructor will make comments on the paper’s content in reference to these criteria, take into consideration the quality of the writing itself, assign a grade, and then return the paper to the student. 


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. All students are expected to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct. A student’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: 

Please see www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct for more information.


Students with Disabilities

Students whose class performance may be affected due to a disability should notify the professor early in the semester so that arrangements can be made, in consultation with the Henry and Lucy Moses Center for Students with Disabilities, to accommodate their needs. 

Please see www.nyu.edu/csd for more information.


NYU Stern Course Policies


Course Schedule

This schedule is tentative.  It was posted Tuesday, August 30.   Changes may come!!


Session 1         2011.SEP.06

The Capitalist Canon

Adam Smith, 1776,  An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations– Book 1, Chapters 1-3.   This is on the course Blackboard site.

Milton Friedman, 1970, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits.   This is all over the Internet and very easy to find.  Here is one such link:


The Price of Lobster Thermidor, Anonymous, The Economist.  This will be distributed in class.




Session 2         2011.SEP.13

Capitalism’s Victims?

Chocolate slavery has been a concern for at least a decade, and it’s hard to know exactly how the problems have evolved in different places.   A basic description can be found at http://www1.american.edu/ted/chocolate-slave.htm;   check the short biographical note about Aly Diabate.   (It’s around the map on this site.)   You can see some information about fair trade chocolate at the site http://vision.ucsd.edu/~kbranson/stopchocolateslavery/main.html.

For Cruise Workers Life Is No Love Boat, Wall Street Journal.  This is on the course Blackboard site.

Lives Held Cheap in Bangladesh Sweatshops, New York Times.  This is on the course Blackboard site. 

Nicholas Kristof, 2009, Where Sweatshops Are a Dream, New York Times.   This can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/opinion/15kristof.html .




Session 3         2011.SEP.20

Other thoughts on capitalism and the free market

Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, from Rao, 1945.

X - Trusteeship, #54   Non Violent Economy

X - Trusteeship, #55   Economic Equality

VIII - Labour, #40       The Gospel of Bread Labour

VIII - Labour, #41       Labour and  Capital

John Ruskin, 1860, Unto This Last, Essay 1, “The Roots of Honour”

Market Failures, handout




Session 4         2011.SEP.27

The Basis of Moral and Ethical Thinking

The Gospel of Jesus According to Luke, select verses from Chapters 6, 12, 14, and 21)

Phineas Gage Website

Brain Morality Website from Harvard Science

George Smith,  Notes on Ethical Systems

Gary Simon, Framing an Ethical Analysis (including notes on Bentham, Kant, Aristotle, Rawls)

Magnets Can Manipulate Morality(Discovery), found at site http://news.discovery.com/tech/magnet-brain-morality.html




Session 5         2011.OCT.04

Fourteenth Dalai Lama, 1989, The Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

John Locke, 1690, Second Treatise of Civil Government, chapter 7, sections 87‑89



There is no class Tuesday, 2011.OCT.11.




Session 6         2011.OCT.18

Attitudes on Money and Wealth

John Wesley, 1872, Sermon 50: The Use of Money

Anton Chekhov, 1898, Gooseberries

Walt Whitman, 1855, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” from Leaves of Grass

Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapters 1-4

Ben Bernanke , The Economics of Happiness, from site http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/bernanke20100508a.htm




Session 7         2011.OCT.25

Ethics Reflected in the Law

Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1897,The Path of the Law

Nicolo Machiavelli, 1505Concerning New Principalities Which Are Acquired,” from The Prince(Chapter 7, excerpt)


Pollution Case Highlights Trend to Let Employees Take the Rap(Wall Street Journal)

Monday, 9:01 a.m.




Session 8         2011.NOV.01    [First paper due]


Travel and Entertainment

“Callicles” from The Gorgias(excerpts) – Plato (380 BCE)

Air Brake

Buynow Stores




Session 9         2011.NOV.08

Leadership .  .  .  what is it?

Plato, 380 BC, “Callicles”from The Gorgias(excerpts)

It Takes a Village – Alibi Agency

Today’s Analyst Wears Two Hats, Wall Street Journal

Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit

Shakespeare, “Band of Brothers” from Henry IV

To be added:  emotional intelligence, transformational leadership, authentic leadership, and so on




Session 10       2011.NOV.15

Leadership .  .  .  historical notions

Confucius, 479‑221 BC,Analects of Confucius, excerpts from Books 2, 4, 6, 8, 12-15, 19, 20)

Aristotle, 350 BC,  Rhetoric, Book 1

Aristotle, 350 BC, Nicomachaean Ethics, Book 1(parts 1-13)

Cicero, 44 BC, The Conflict Between the Right and the Expedient, from De Officiis, Book 3, Chapters XII-XX

NicoloMachiavelli,1505,The Prince, Chapters 15-19




Undergraduate classes will be held  Monday through Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.  Graduate classes will not be held.


Session 11       2011.NOV.22

Leadership .  .  .  examples and puzzles

Ulysses S.  Grant, 1886, Personal Memoirs(excerpts)

Abraham Lincoln, 1863,The Gettysburg Address

Lloyd C.  Blankfein,  Testimony to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission

Stockbroker’s Story; Travel and Entertainment

The Power of One, a perspective on George W.  Bush

When Good Ethics Aren’t Good Business, New York Times




Session 12       2011.NOV.29

Historical Attitudes to Finance

Mystery paintings

Parable of the Talents

Markets of Amsterdam

Charles Mackay, 1852, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Decisions and the Madness of Crowds, 2nd Edition (chapter on tulipomania)




Session 13       2011.DEC.06  

Finance and the Crisis of 2008

Michael Lewis, 2010,  The Big Short (selections)

Roger Lowenstein, 2010, The End of Wall Street (selections)

Dembinski, Finance:Servant or Master (excerpts)

Short-term ROE article

Times article on quants




Session 14       2011.DEC.13  [second paper due]

Summaries and Prespectives

Simple Truths

Lao-tzu, 600 BC,Tao Te Ching,numbers 1-3, 8, 9, 13, 17-19, 24, 26, 30, 38, 49, 57, 60, 77, 80, 81

Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapters 1-4 (reprise)






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