The fall 2023 semester at the University of Notre Dame will mark a homecoming of sorts for Tim Fort.
A “double Domer” – Fort earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Notre Dame – he will teach his first course at the University, through the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, this fall. The Kroc Institute is part of the Keough School of Global Affairs.
“Business and Peace: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (IIPS 40101) is open to all interested undergraduate students pursuing one of the Keough School’s many majors, supplementary majors, or minors. Registration for the fall semester is currently open. A concentrated, brief course, “Business and Peace” will meet on three Fridays during the fall semester – Sept. 8, Oct. 13 and Nov. 10 – from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. It is a letter-graded, 1.0 credit course.
“The course will cast the spotlight on ethical corporate culture, asking the questions, ‘Can business promote peace? Can business intersect with peace?’” said Fort.
“And in my experience, the idea of business serving in this role has not been widely accepted or agreed upon,” he said. “There are many kinds of businesses, and owners of businesses can be interested in different things, often ranging beyond profit-making. ‘Business’ is not monolithic; some can have positive impacts, while others are negative.”
These were questions and thoughts Fort wrestled with professionally. He believed that business could serve in a peace-oriented capacity. That said, he encountered pushback along the journey – from students, faculty, and industry – about the notion of business serving as an agent or instrument of peace.
He persevered, earning his law degree and then his doctorate in theology, with a business perspective at Northwestern – “the closest I could get to a Ph.D. in business ethics because those programs simply didn’t exist at the time,” he said.
Fort began his academic career in earnest in 1994, when he began teaching business law and business ethics at the University of Michigan, where he also started to research business and peace. In 2005, he moved to George Washington University, where he also taught business law and business ethics and led a task force on business and peace for the U.S. Institute of Peace, as well as programs for the State Department and the World Bank Institute.
Fort currently holds the Eveleigh Professorship in Business Ethics, teaching business law and ethics at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, a position he’s held since 2013. In 2022, the Academy of Legal Studies in Business awarded Fort with its highest honor, the Distinguished Career Faculty Award.
“Business and Peace” will focus on the role of for-profit and non-profit institutions within the context of current economic systems. Students will examine how actions of business have the potential to exploit populations, profit from war-making, and engage in the promotion of violence. They’ll also analyze an area of academic inquiry sometimes called “Business For Peace”: studies that have been done on businesses that have served as instruments of peace, as well as ways businesses can become more actively involved in peacemaking, peacebuilding and peacekeeping, inside and outside zones of conflict. Finally, students will assess newer, nuanced theories from political theorists that assess the positives and negatives of the role of business in engagement for peace.
To learn more about this and other fall semester peace studies classes, visit https://kroc.nd.edu/undergraduate/courses/fall-semester-courses/