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High school students learn about business ethics

POSTED: September 27, 2013 12:29 a.m.

“Success is made up of habits. Set yourself up for good, big decisions by making good, small decisions.”

Those words of wisdom, among many others, came from Bryson Payne, department head of computer science at the University of North Georgia. Payne was one of many speakers at Thursday’s business ethics program for area high school students at the university’s Gainesville campus.

“We see the results of not teaching ethics too often in the news,” Payne said. “By the time students get to college, a lot of their decisions (and) their habits are already being formed or already have been formed. By teaching students when they’re younger ... while they’re still forming their view of the world, I think we’ve got a better chance at impacting the decisions they’ll make when they’re in business.”

The program was presented by the university’s BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership in conjunction with Junior Achievement, Gainesville Rotary Club and McDonald’s of Northeast Georgia. A similar session was held Tuesday at the Dahlonega campus for 250 students from Chestatee, Gainesville, Lumpkin and White County high schools and Lakeview Academy.

At Thursday’s event, more than 180 juniors and seniors from East Hall, Flowery Branch, Johnson, North Hall and West Hall high schools participated. Topics included decision-making skills, organizational ethics and global business ethics.

Students also completed a hands-on activity where they broke into groups, pretending to sell each other cars.

“They get a description of the car they’re trying to sell, and it includes all the faults with the car,” explained Katie Simmons, associate dean of the Mike Cottrell College of Business at the university. “And they get two pictures. One’s a good picture, one’s a bad picture.”

They then create an advertisement to sell the car to one of the other groups.

“It gives us the chance to discuss about ethics and business transactions,” Simmons said. “And also ... think about the importance of ethical behavior.”

East Hall High teacher Adam Banks said it’s important for students to look at the difference between “right” and “wrong.”

“Not only in the work world, but in their life,” he added.


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