Howard Carver Ethics & Professionalism Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Accounting students have the opportunity to enhance their ethical foundation thanks to the resources provided by Howard Carver, a UW Alumnus, initial funding for the program provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). With this generous support, the department has implemented an integrated curriculum of activities, which enhances sensitivity to ethical and professional issues and provides students with opportunities to develop a sound ethical and professional orientation to current and future challenges they can expect to encounter in their careers.

The funding will help the department sustain and enhance a program to revise and reinvigorate the ethics curriculum. A recent publication by PwC, Educating for the Public Trust: The PricewaterhouseCoopers Position on Accounting Education, cited three areas that accounting education should address:

  • helping students understand what it means to be a member of the profession,
  • emphasizing higher-level interpersonal and communication skills and integrating them throughout the curriculum, and
  • fostering student’s ability to solve problems in complex business environments where the best answer is difficult to quantify.

The UW-Madison ethics and professionalism program addresses all three of those objectives: (a) ethics is developed in the context of professionalism; (b) there is an emphasis on role-playing, group activities, and direct interaction with professionals in discussing ethics issues; and (c) in-depth discussion of business and ethical alternatives in business and tax situations.

Activities within the program include: professional meetings with practitioners and students engaged in discussion of ethical issues, students developing and enforcing a Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for our program, laboratory experiments examining ethical behavior in situations where reward structures do not encourage ethical behavior, and case discussions held outside of the classroom as part of the orientation of students who enter our program. These activities are supplemented by in-depth coverage of corporate governance, risk, and ethical behavior in courses such as financial reporting and auditing.

All MAcc students must complete an ethics writing assignment over the summer; click here for the fall 2015 writing assignment.

To get an idea of the student-led ethics initiatives, click here to see the fall 2015 committee report.

Statement of Values: