CJBE 20th Annual Meeting Creighton University

Experience level: 
Kristine Brands, Regis University

Reflections and Lessons Learned from Teaching Accounting Ethics

Resubmission from Kristine Brands - includes three discussion questions. The importance of ethics in the accounting profession is critical because of numerous accounting scandals that have adversely affected the public interest caused by accountants’ ethical lapses. Scandals such as Enron, WorldCom, and HealthSouth were rooted in ethical dilemmas and wrongdoing that cost shareholders millions of dollars and could have been avoided if management had possessed integrity and a moral compass. The accounting profession recognizes the role that accountants played in these scandals and has placed the spotlight on accountants to serve the public trust by following ethical practices and requiring accountants to abide by codes of professional conduct as they perform their professional responsibilities. Numerous State Boards of Accountancy, the regulatory bodies responsible for regulating states’ licensure of Certified Public Accountants require a dedicated accounting ethics course as part of licensure educational requirement. Thus, higher education accounting programs must offer accounting ethics courses. Offering the courses to satisfy regulatory requirement is not enough; higher education has an obligation to develop students’ moral and ethical conscience. This is easier said than done. Teaching accounting ethics is challenging because of the complexity and the variety of situations that occur. Ethical dilemma resolution cannot be accomplished through a one-size fits all approach. This paper is the author’s reflection on teaching accounting ethics to undergraduate and graduate accounting students. It examines the strategies and assignments used in accounting ethics courses discussing what works and what doesn’t work and presents lessons learned. It explores achieving our Jesuit value “How Ought We to Live” through studying and teaching accounting ethics. Discussion Questions: 1. What strategies do you use to teach accounting and business ethics? 2. How do you measure the effectiveness of your accounting and business ethics courses? 3. How do you incorporate our Jesuit value “How Ought We to Live” when you teach accounting and business ethics courses?