Presentations may change from one Daniels Ethics Boot Camp to another, but the underlying message of the 8-year-old event is a constant: Leading an ethical life can make a person happier, and the earlier someone learns that lesson, the better.
“If you don’t develop good ethics now, you can develop bad habits … You can infuse ethics education in young people; we plant the seeds,” said Associate Professor Corey Ciocchetti, chair of Daniels’ Business Ethics and Legal Studies Department and boot camp cofounder. “The more you think about it, the better at it you’ll be.”
Ciocchetti—known as Professor C—and Paula Holt, BELS teaching assistant professor, created the Ethics Boot Camp in 2009. The department holds the EBC in fall, winter and spring quarters.
This fall’s EBC ran Oct. 6 and 7 with approximately 375 students participating. The students were divided into more than 40 teams with names like “Ambition,” “Courage,” “Wisdom” and “Zeal.” Featured speakers ran the gamut from Professor C to motivational speaker and YouTube star Judson Laipply of Cleveland, who emphasized learning ethics through experience.
In his opening presentation, Laipply led all the teams in several communication exercises designed to spark “fun, insightful conversations” during the boot camp. “Asking questions is a way to know people as human beings,” Laipply said.
Themed breakout sessions were led by DU professors as well as industry representatives, including Andy Holleman, chief compliance officer at Greenwood Village-based Newmont Mining Corp., one of the world’s largest gold-mining companies. Topics ranged from mind games and game theory to living with integrity.
Holleman said that Newmont—an industry leader in safety and sustainability—was participating in the EBC because the company is committed to operating ethically. In his Friday breakout session, “Overcoming Bad Advice from my Freshman RA,” Holleman asked students if they thought companies talking about ethics “rings true” and whether adults can become more ethical. He got mixed responses: one student said that adults don’t change their essential selves, while another believed that having a family and shifting one’s focus onto others—as well as themselves—can make them more ethical.
Holleman, however, does believe that people can change. “My job is helping people at Newmont around the globe model ethical behavior,” he said. A Denver native, Holleman is an attorney who previously worked at Qwest/CenturyLink Inc.
Students at Holt’s Friday session, “Business Ethics Tango,” danced the tango to learn how to build moral judgment. Such judgment, like the tango, requires people to lean on each other as well as stand on their own, according to Holt, who led the session with her mother, psychologist Sonja Holt.
In his Friday night keynote address, Ciocchetti discussed the effects of ethical thinking and behavior in his own life—including risking leaving a job he hated to find work that gave him more time with his family and made him happier. He ended with three pieces of advice: think, laugh (including at yourself) and have your emotions stirred. “Unethical people can’t be happy,” he concluded. “Being unethical is not in your best interest.”
It’s never too early to learn about living an ethical life, which is why the University of Denver is running a crowdfunding campaign to offer Daniels’ Ethics Boot Camp to 100 Denver high school students. Learn more about the campaign and consider making a gift today. Gifts of all sizes will help teach youth the importance of making ethical decisions.