Michele Jurgens, Chair of the Master of Science in Business Ethics & Compliance Program
Michele Jurgens, chair of the Master of Science in Business Ethics & Compliance degree program at New England College of Business, was drawn to the field of corporate social responsibility as a result of her strategy consulting activities and later while working in France at a large hotel and services group. She watched how the societal orientation of businesses evolved over her 20-year career.
“The demands of productivity and growth became so constraining that no matter what corporation you worked for, the goal of providing a valuable service to customers and society was being overshadowed by the goal of achieving a profit,” she says.
Michele recalled one discussion in particular, which required her coworkers to examine what a business's obligations to society and stakeholders really are.
“We met to consider a marketing campaign to attract visitors in the off season. One idea was to offer rooms for a euro if guests came with a teddy bear to donate to child refugees in North Africa. I saw this as a 'no-brainer', yet half of the room was against the idea, arguing that the hotel had no business getting involved with philanthropy. The other half of the room was so pleased to be able to combine a charitable deed with their commercial activities,” Michele says.
Upon returning to the states, Michele entered a Ph.D. program at Bentley University. From Bentley, Michele began teaching at Harvard University Extension School before beginning her career at New England College of Business, one of the few schools in the country with a Business Ethics & Compliance program.
Michele says that leading the program has been a unique and exciting opportunity. As chair of the program, she worked with her team to launch the Capstone Project, an initiative that allows students to work on real-world projects in collaboration with one of the school's partner corporations.
“Students really get a feel for what it's like to struggle with these issues in the workplace, and our partners are also really pleased to gain the novel perspectives offered by our students,” Michele says.
Despite the online format of her courses, she is able to leverage the school's discussion board and other tools to help students explore ethics and corporate social responsibility from all angles.
“We talk about the role of business in society historically, and how business might manage their role in different ways,” Michele says. “There has to be a conversation about this…to be a top performer in any job requires that you ask the right questions, and to think deeply about issues that don't fall into one category so easily.”
Visit the Faculty page on our website to learn more about Michele and other New England College of Business faculty.