For the first time, freshman students in the Carroll School of Management are required to take a three-credit course, Portico. The program largely centers on introduction of the vast number of careers available to business oriented students, development of invaluable, personal skills within any corporate setting, and most importantly reinforcement of vital ethical values. Portico was piloted last fall; it has received favorable feedback throughout the BC community.
The Portico program is a result of the vision of Dean Andrew C. Boynton, who was made dean of the Carroll School in 2005. He sought to “more effectively embed into the curriculum and into the minds and hearts of our students the enduring concepts underlying Jesuit and Catholic values of education.” In the years following, staff from various Boston College departments developed the curriculum for the Portico program, which would first be taught by Professor Richard Spinello and Dean Richard Keeley during the Fall 2008 semester.
According to Ethan Sullivan, Assistant Dean of Curriculum in the Carroll School, the “idea behind [Portico] is to get students to see broadly, to develop abilities that will transcend an area of business (abilities like leadership, decision-making, ethical action), to be exposed to new ways of thinking, and to see the realities of different fields.” Essentially, the program aims to make CSOM students into capable leaders in the business world, rather than simply experts in a particular field. It introduces students to the sheer number of options in terms of a career in the business world– opportunities that students do not typically consider when choosing a major. Sullivan states, “There are so many careers beyond being an [investment banker] or corporate attorney, let’s find out what they are and if our talents fit well in certain areas. Or if we do want to be an investment banker, let’s see what that really means. Once we get there, let’s have some frameworks for how to think in a way that will benefit the self, the company, the industry, and the world.”
More important than the obvious benefits of a curriculum designed to introduce students to the wide world of businessrelated careers and cultivate a broad range of skills is the emphasis Portico places on ethical values. The Portico program has successfully integrated the very spirit of Jesuit Education into basic CSOM curriculum. A quick glance at the Portico website reveals that seven of the fourteen weeks are devoted to the study of ethics in business–certainly an improvement over the one credit Ethics course previously required of all Carroll School students. By making the program a requirement, the administration makes a firm statement that the ethical values the course introduces are a top priority in any future business career. Certainly the principle of ethical action toward all people and in all situations within the workplace is an embodiment of the Jesuit ideal to serve others.
The class certainly involves a great deal of time and effort–work began over the summer when incoming freshmen read chapters of David Landes’ The Wealth and Poverty of Nations and Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, and wrote a paper. However, students have been generally happy with the addition to their core curriculum. Freshman Jonathan Deering states, “having the opportunity to experience all the concentrations available in one semester and in one class is invaluable. The group projects and hands-on assignments immerse its students into business right off the bat, unlike many other universities.”
The end of this semester will see the first full Carroll School class completing the Portico program.