Santa Clara University

Markkula Center

What's a MOOC?

A Massive Open Online Course in business ethics


In the early years after the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics was founded in 1986, every contact we made—with University faculty and students, with businesspeople, doctors, and other professionals—was face to face. We gave workshops and we did training; we taught courses and we gave consultations. And that personal contact remains vital to the work we do today.

But, at a certain point, the Center’s Advisory Board began to ask a crucial question: How will you scale this work?

By 1996, we had a partial answer to that question in a website that today attracts more than 2.8 million visitors a year. And with a major gift last year, the Center has been able to develop a whole new approach to using the Internet for spreading the ethics message.

Key to this effort are Massive, Open, Online Courses, or MOOCs. We piloted our MOOC, Business Ethics for the Real World, last February. It was the first experiment with this exciting new trend in online education for Santa Clara University and the first such course anywhere on business ethics. We’re now reprising it, and registration remains open until April 28, 2014.

Taught by Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson, the four-week MOOC offers an introduction to ethics for working businesspeople or business students. Two more business ethics MOOCs will follow in 2014.

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