Why Business?

This feeling for the meaning and dignity of one’s profession and for the place of work in society, whatever work it be, is today lost to a shockingly large number of people. To revive this feeling is one of the most pressing tasks of our times, but it is a task whose solution requires an apt combination of economic analysis and philosophical subtlety.

—Wilhelm Röpke, A Human Economy: The Social Framework of the Free Market (1960)

The BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism, under the vision and leadership of executive director Dr. Jim Otteson, has developed a family of courses called “Why Business?” to guide students in the exploration of the proper role of business in a humane and just society. “Why Business?” is a required course in the Business School’s Master of Arts in Management program and is offered in other academic programs, and its content informs discussions and additional course offerings in other programs.

The “Why Business?” approach is distinctive in business education: it takes students into the foundations of business and society so that they will graduate from Wake Forest with not only technical business skills, but also the ability to tell their friends, family, and coworkers why they are doing something that matters and creates value for society.

This approach should characterize the experience of Wake Forest business school students beyond the introductory course, and so the BB&T Center is working to provide resources for other instructors at Wake Forest and beyond that will facilitate the integration of core questions about the role of business in a humane and just society into other courses and programs.

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