Wharton Professor Kevin Werbach Recipient of the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program’s 2021 Ideas Worth Teaching Award

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Kevin Werbach, Liem Sioe Liong/First Pacific Company Professor, Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics

NEW YORK, September 30, 2021Today, the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program announced the eight winners of its 2021 Ideas Worth Teaching Awards.

The Aspen Institute’s Business & Society Program recognizes the power of business school teaching to influence the culture embedded within capitalism and, as a result, has been honoring innovative faculty since 1999. In a sign of the rising interest in social impact in business, this year’s nominations for the Awards rose by 40%.

The eight winning finalists were chosen from a pool of nominations representing 90 schools from 19 countries from every continent except Antarctica. But more than the numbers, it’s the content of the courses that reflects the historic nature of this moment, says Jaime Bettcher, Program Manager at the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program who oversees the awards selection process.

“We believe we are experiencing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reposition the fundamental relationship between business and society,” said Bettcher. “Courses like ‘Finance for a Sustainable World,’ for example, treat Environmental, Social and Governance Metrics as central to financial decision-making, rather than as a green add-on. Courses like Relationships and Reconciliation in Business and Beyond and Advancing Racial Equity at Work frame equity as foundational to 21st century business.”

Aspen Institute Dan Porterfield has underscored the historic parallels between the challenges and opportunities of the world at the time of Institute’s was founded and those of today. “The Aspen Institute was founded 70 years ago in the aftermath of genocide, world war, and nuclear destruction by a group of pragmatic and humanistic optimists who believed that a good society must be organized around—and protect and promote—human dignity…Clearly, this is [another] defining moment in the history of our country as we try to promote racial and gender justice, stop COVID-19, end childhood poverty, reform immigration, fix American health care, make the economy work for all, renew our democracy, mend the social fabric, and see one another as human beings.”

With this history in mind, Bettcher sees great potential in the example set by this year’s winning courses. “There is immense power in business practice – the collective and normalized decision-making across corporations and global markets – to affect health, economic and environmental inequities; to affect how governments function and how public goods are protected and sustained.”

“History teaches us that these efforts in a moment of crisis would in time lay the foundations for prosperity and social progress in the decades that follow. We believe that the courses recognized among this year’s winners point the way for a world on stronger and more just foundations in the future.”

The eight winning courses are:

The 2021 Ideas Worth Teaching Award Winners:

Advancing Racial Equity at Work
Courtney McCluney
Cornell University; School of Industrial Labor Relations

Beyond Diversity: The Fundamentals of Inclusive Leadership
Nicholas Pearce
Northwestern University; Kellogg School of Management

Big Data, Big Responsibilities: The Laws and Ethics of Business Analytics
Kevin Werbach
University of Pennsylvania; The Wharton School

Finance for a Sustainable World
Swasti Gupta-Mukherhee
Loyola University Chicago; Quinlan School of Business

Grand Challenges for Entrepreneurs
Emily Cox Pahnke
University of Washington; Foster School of Business

Relationships and Reconciliation in Business and Beyond
Lindsay Brant & Kate Rowbotham
Queen’s University; Smith School of Business

Sustainable and Responsible Investing
Kingsley Fong & William Wu
University of New South Wales; UNSW Business School

The History and Ethics of Capitalism
James Hoopes
Babson College

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About The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program (Aspen BSP), founded in 1998, works with business executives and scholars to align business decisions and investments with the long-term health of society—and the planet. Through carefully designed networks, working groups and focused dialogue, the Program identifies and inspires thought leaders and “intrapreneurs” to challenge conventional ideas about capitalism and markets, to test new measures of business success and to connect classroom theory and business practice. The Business and Society Program is most known for the First Movers Fellowship, for dialogue on curbing short-termism in business and capital markets, and for fresh thinking about the Purpose of the corporation. For more information, visit www.aspenbsp.org.