There is a growing trend in Higher Education to incorporate business ethics into economics and business academic curriculum in order to make students aware of the importance of considering the ethical dimension into decision-making. This educational challenge has been faced through numerous learning approaches and methodologies, such as role-playing or the use of films, all of which are aimed at getting students to actively participate in the acquisition of knowledge and skills, and to equip them with the necessary tools to take business ethics into account in their professional life. On this occasion, we have chosen the case study methodology to analyze a particular relevant topic: the impact of the fashion industry on society and the environment.
Objectives are, on the one hand, to validate the use of the case study methodology in the learning of business ethics applied to the fashion industry and, on the other hand, to stimulate students to develop communication skills, critical analysis and problem solving, among others. To evaluate the achievement of these objectives, students answered a survey with rating, Likert and open questions.
The development of this teaching innovation experience was carried out in three phases. In the first phase, the faculty team contextualized business ethics as an area of study, providing students with theoretical insights that would allow them to understand better the importance of ethics in a business context. In the second phase, students worked autonomously on the case study receiving the guidance and support of the faculty team. Different working groups were formed, and each of them focused on a specific aspect of the case. During the teamwork phase, the faculty team monitored students’ progress and guided them, making sure to address their concerns and generate a lively discussion among the members of each team. Finally, the third phase consisted in the presentation of the reflections by teams and an open discussion with all the students of the course.
Discussion and Results
The results point to high levels of student satisfaction with both the methodology used and the contents covered. In this sense, students described the training session as “interesting”, “useful” and “entertaining”, among others, and offered useful recommendations for improvement in learning about business ethics in higher education contexts, mainly related to work dynamics.
Overall, given the need to introduce methodological innovations in the learning processes in higher education, the use of case studies, which is rooted in teaching, can be especially useful when dealing with complex or abstract aspects since it encourages autonomous team learning and promotes an inspiring and collaborative working environment.