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Rome Reports

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British University's call for business to work for social good and not only for profit

Pope Francis has invited all young economists and entrepreneurs to meet in Assisi in 2020. The aim is to find ways of humanizing an economic system that has forgotten to serve people.

The pope has frequently called for economics and ethics to go hand-in-hand.

“This massification is also of interest to the economics powers that want to exploit globalization. Instead of favoring collaboration between peoples, they impose a global market in which they themselves are the ones who dictate the rules and those who profit.”

One university that seeks to combat a solely profit-based mentality in business, and promote social good is St. Mary's University in the UK. 

Ruth Kelly, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the university, was recently in Rome to attend the Economic and Society award, organized by Fondazione Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice. 

According to her, one cannot view economics from a purely utilitarian perspective, but in how one wants to be a good person.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, St. Mary's University (UK)
“Why in the financial crisis did people not really study their consciences and make different choices? The argument is that they were following a paradigm, they were following a well established pattern of economics as it is understood currently in society without really thinking through about the consequences of their actions.”

Ruth Kelly previously served in the British government in positions such as Secretary of State for Education and skills as well as Financial Secretary. She argues that business education needs to focus on forming good citizens. 

Pro Vice-Chancellor, St. Mary's University (UK)
“I think people need to think beyond the traditional business paradigm of just maximizing shareholder profit. They need to think what impact their actions are having on others. They need to think through how their own actions are geared toward the welfare of society. So business education is often criticized for really being focused on the bottom line. Instead, I would argue, that business education is about turning out good people. Good citizens who can make the right sort of decisions”

One way the university is seeking to promote social good is through the First Star Academy. It is a program originally from the United States. The summer program hosts young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to spend time living and learning at the university.