December 21, 2011 - Samford University professor John C. Knapp explores the relationship between church and work in his latest book, How the Church Fails Businesspeople (And What Can Be Done About It).
In the book, released this week by Eerdmans Publishing Company, Dr. Knapp argues that the church’s ambiguous teachings about vocation, money and business have long contributed to Christians’ uncertainty about discipleship in the workplace.
Knapp, founding director of Samford’s Francis Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, draws on his expertise in business ethics and interviews with Christians in diverse occupations to offer a new theological framework for Christian life in the world of business.
In a series of blogs related to the book, Knapp writes that many Christians struggling to make their faith relevant to their daily work find the church oddly indifferent to their lives on the job.
As a consultant to business and professional clients, and as an educator of both business and seminary students, he says, “I have known countless believers who say the church does little or nothing to equip them for faithful living in the settings where they spend most of their waking hours and productive years.”
He wrote the book, he said, to shed light on the cultural, historical, theological and educational influences that have led to the situation.
Throughout the book, Knapp incorporates real-life anecdotes and examples. Many are drawn from interviews with 230 Christians who are actively seeking to bridge their Sunday church and weekday work. The interviewees ranged from executives and elected officials to barbers and bookkeepers. They include active members of nine Protestant denominations and Roman Catholic congregations in all regions of the United States.
Knapp’s other books include For the Common Good: The Ethics of Leadership in the 21st Century, Leaders on Ethics: Real-World Perspectives on Today’s Business Challenges, and The Business of Higher Education, three volumes that examine how universities cope with pressures to strengthen accountability and efficiency.
December 19, 2011 - A book that is sorely needed in today’s Christian world is John Knapp’s How the Church Fails Businesspeople (Knapp is a professor and head of an ethics center at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama). He’s blogging on the concept, briefly, on his publisher’s website, and lo and behold, up pops one of my favorite classical, Christocentric liberals of the 19th century, Charles M. Sheldon. Yup. I dedicated a chapter to Mr. “What Would Jesus Do?” in my book Patron Saints for Postmoderns (yes, there’s a Kindle version, in case you get one of those hugely popular commerce devices this Christmas). Here’s Dr. Knapp’s take on Sheldon. Amen, John. May your book gain a wide audience:
Pastors who wish to better understand the weekday lives of their parishioners could learn a thing or two from the real-life example of a nineteenth-century minister named Charles Sheldon, best known for his classic novel titled In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?
Topeka, Kansas, was in a severe economic recession when Sheldon arrived in 1889 to pastor the Central Congregational Church. To make his ministry relevant to the everyday needs of his parishioners and community, he asked his church for permission to devote twelve weeks to what he called “practical sociological studies,” suspending most of his regular duties except for preaching on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. A remarkable adventure ensued, taking him into every part of town to learn how others lived and worked.
He spent a week as a homeless person looking for employment and finding none. He rode with the streetcar crews and stayed with them at their boardinghouse. At the local college, he attended classes with students and helped them study. From there, Sheldon turned his energies to the African-American community, where for three weeks he “went into their houses, tried to find out the immediate causes of their destitution,” and helped some look for jobs. He visited their schools and got to know their leaders.
Sheldon went next to live for a week with the railroad workers — firemen, brakemen, switchmen, yardmen, and engineers — and worked alongside them for no pay while discussing their lives and jobs. Then it was on to the professional community, beginning with the city’s lawyers. He interviewed them, read their cases and briefs, and attended their court hearings. The following week was similar, but his subjects were doctors whom he accompanied on their rounds.
Next came a week with businessmen in real estate, accounting, dry goods, hardware, and other fields. Sheldon questioned them about their treatment of employees and wanted to know if they had profit-sharing plans. The research culminated with a week at the local newspaper, The Topeka Daily Capital, where he managed to write several articles and assist with composition, stereotyping, and the printing press. Sheldon gleaned much from the project, including “an immense amount of valuable material which I cannot but believe will stand me in good stead in the work of my ministry.” At a more personal level, he came away “less inclined to judge men harshly or hastily. I find myself from the discipline of those 12 weeks constantly putting myself in the other man’s place, and the effect of that is to quicken my sensitiveness to the man’s actual needs.” For his congregation he foresaw benefits resulting from “the increased knowledge, superficial no doubt, but better than none, of other people’s business.” He also imagined that his experience could help break down “the distrust that exists between the workingman and the church.”
For the whole post, see here. But do yourself a favor and read part one and part two, too. This is an important message for the church.
December 9, 2011 - The Mann Center sponsors two innovative program series where Samford students and faculty model and practice civil, moral discourse about the big questions facing individuals and society.
The newest of these, the center's Better World Theater project, debuted Dec. 6 to an enthusiastic audience of students and faculty who filled the Bolding Studio theater. Two short theatrical productions, produced and performed by nine students in the Brock School of Business, were designed to raise issues about ethics in the workplace. The performers then led the audience in a lively, thought-provoking discussion.
Better World Theater is a collaborative venture of the Mann Center and the university's Department of Theater and Dance. Future productions will involve students and audiences in other fields of study, such as nursing, education, law or journalism. The project is intended to develop students' ethical awareness and competencies in leading peer-to-peer dialog. Its name reflects the concluding words of Samford's vision statement: "The world will be better for it."
Meanwhile, the Courageous Conversations series continued in November with a discussion of freedom of expression. Student and faculty panelists led a discussion with approximately 120 students on the theme, "Can we talk about it?" Participants considered how well the university community accommodates diverse viewpoints on often-difficult issues like race, homosexuality and religion. The program began with a presentation by the chaplain of Belmont University who shared lessons from his institution after a highly publicized conflict following the resignation of a lesbian coach.
The purpose of Courageous Conversations is to foster moral discourse on the issues "we know we need to discuss, but know we are not discussing." Past topics have included sexual health, pornography, academic cheating, and responsibilities in social networking.
December 9, 2011 - With academic cheating on the rise at colleges and universities worldwide, the Mann Center has initiated a series of projects to promote academic integrity at Samford. A spring 2011 survey of the campus, conducted with assistance from the International Center for Academic Integrity, found significant gaps between student and faculty attitudes about cheating. Among these were disparate views regarding the seriousness of various types of academic dishonesty.
In response, the Mann Center is meeting with faculty and student groups across the university to share the research findings and discuss strategies for reducing cheating. Planned educational projects involve the University Library, Student Affairs, New Student Orientation, Faculty Senate, and others. New sections of the center's website provide resources for students and for faculty, including research and best practices from other institutions.
These efforts will be advised by a newly appointed Student Advisory Council on Academic Integrity comprising representatives with diverse majors and interests. Members of the 2011-12 council are Lydia Nace (Sophomore/History), Jordan Valdez (Sophomore/Nursing), Paizley Coffey (Junior/Education), Sarah Waller (Junior/Journalism and Mass Communications), Jennifer Nelson (1st Year/Pharmacy), Caroline Noland (Senior/Business), Tom Oliver (Senior/Political Science), Mandy Liu (Senior/Music).
December 9, 2011 - The Mann Center provides programs and presentations to a variety of public audiences worldwide. Following are recent speeches by Dr. John Knapp, the center's director:
Lebanese Society for Education and Development - keynote speech at Lebanese American University (Beirut) for an annual conference of teachers, administrators and community leaders, and a conference session on the moral development of students at Middle East University. During this visit, Dr. Knapp met with Lebanon’s Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Hassan Diab, and was interviewed by several Lebanese news organizations.
Investment Management Consultants Association - final session in a national series for professional wealth managers. The seven programs addressed professional ethics and public trust in the context of the global financial crisis.
Consortium for Global Education - featured speaker for CGE's annual membership meeting of representatives of more than 40 participating colleges and universities.
Motion Industries - keynote speech for the corporate annual meeting of 1,000 managers and supplier representatives. Motion Industries is a part of Genuine Parts corporation.
Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants - presentation to the annual conference of collegiate accounting instructors on effective methods for teaching ethics.
Dr. Knapp's newest book, How the Church Fails Businesspeople (and What Can Be Done about It), is previewed in a three-part blog by Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co. - part 1: Introduction and overview; part 2: Devaluing everyday work; part 3: One pastor's story.
December 9, 2011 - Samford University awards the Mann Medal in Ethics & Leadership to nationally or internationally known leaders or organizations whose efforts have made significant contributions to a more just and ethical society. The work recognized with the award must address a clear need or problem facing society, have significance on a large scale and be an inspiring example for others to follow.
Nominees for the Mann Medal may be from any field of endeavor. Please fill out the nomination form or contact Ms. Azalea Hulbert, program manager, at 205.726.4634 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 9, 2011 - Two different case studies, one written by two M.B.A., students and another by an undergraduate student from Samford University’s Brock School of Business recently were selected as finalists for a national case writing competition sponsored by Baylor University. The competition is hosted by the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) the largest independent, professional, academic organization in the world focused on advancing entrepreneurship, and winners will be announced in January at its national conference in New Orleans.
Underclassman Kley Sippel, a Brock Scholar honor student, wrote: "From Poverty to Prosperity" during an independent study supervised by Carson last summer. The case was the result of a study abroad program Sippel had in January, when he worked with the South African non-governmental organization, Living Way. The organization’s mission is to reduce poverty in a country still suffering the consequences of apartheid (legalized segregation). Sippel served as part of a student consulting team that developed an entrepreneurship workshop that the Living Way’s director can use to help find and develop promising entrepreneurs. The case focused on the director’s decision about whether the workshop would work in South Africa, and, if so, how it would be implemented.
Sippel plans to use the case as a basis for his senior Brock Scholars thesis. His trip was supported by Samford’s Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership and the Brock Scholars programs, and his summer research was supported by an Alabama Power Foundation grant through the Samford University Fellows program. Sippel said, “This case represents, in many ways, a masterpiece portfolio of my undergraduate experience. As I freshman I learned how to examine articles and explore scholarly work, and during the next few years I learned how become a scholar in my field. Now, as a senior, I have the privilege and blessing of learning from others, finding my own questions to answer, traveling the world to explore them, and then publishing my findings. It is rewarding to re-invest in the learning system that has invested so much in me during the past four years."
“We are very proud of Kley for being the only undergraduate student selected as finalist for this competition,” said Carson. “He is conducting important research on how entrepreneurs can succeed in developing economies, and we look forward to his presentation at the conference.”
To be eligible for the competition, cases had to focus on entrepreneurship issues in new, small, family, or large businesses. Winning cases will be announced January 14, 2012 and cash prizes of $2,000 for first, $1,000 for second and $500 for third place will be awarded.
December 6, 2011 - Students in Samford’s Brock Scholars program piloted a unique new program December 5th, when they presented two short plays to an audience of their peers. The performance was part of the Mann Center’s new Better World Theatre initiative, which allows students to think critically about ethical issues in their field of study by acting out scenarios they are likely to encounter in the professional world.
Directing Monday night’s performance was Megan McElroy, a junior Accounting major from Arlington, TN. Actors were Cameron Collins, a senior from Cornelius, NC; Mallory James, a junior from Cordova, TN; Caroline Noland, a senior from Boiling Springs, SC; Kley Sippel, a senior from Greenville, SC; and Sally Snider, a junior from Norcross, GA.
Following each play, the actors led the audience in a lively discussion of the issues presented; junior Lauren Bates, from Clarksville, TN, served as moderator. “Mental Reservation,” featuring Collins and Noland, asked the audience to consider whether lying is ever appropriate. “Now We’re Really Getting Somewhere,” starring James, Noland, Sippel, and Snider, focused on interpersonal relationships and the search for meaning at work.
Stage managers for the production were seniors Annika Cousins, from Shell Rock, IA and Ben Jones, from Thomasville, GA. Junior Emily Mallory, from Louisville, KY, assisted with promotions.
Founded in 2008, the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership is based in the Office of the Provost at Samford University. The center supports teaching, research and service across the Samford University campus.
As a university-wide resource, the center sponsors curricular and co-curricular initiatives with Samford’s professional schools and other academic programs. Better World Theatre, the center’s newest initiative, is the result of collaboration between Mann Center Director Dr. John Knapp and Dr. Donald Sandley, Professor and Chair of Samford’s Theatre department. Other ongoing projects include an online resource center on academic integrity, the Courageous Conversations dialogues, and the Mann Medal in Ethics and Leadership. Learn more at www.samford.edu/manncenter.
December 1, 2011 - Eight Samford students, representing each of the university’s undergraduate schools, have been chosen to serve on the Mann Center’s Academic Integrity Council for the 2011-2012 academic year. The students will support the center’s ongoing academic integrity initiative by identifying opportunities for student-focused programming and resources.
Student representatives are Lydia Nace, a sophomore history major from Morton, IL; Jordan Valdez, a sophomore nursing major from Columbia, TN; Paizley Coffey, a junior education major from Athens, AL; Sarah Waller, a junior JMC major from Gainesville, GA; Jennifer Nelson, a first-year pharmacy student from Coto de Caza, CA; Caroline Noland, a senior Brock Scholar from Boiling Springs, SC; Tom Oliver, a senior political science major from Vestavia Hills, AL; and Mandy Liu, a senior piano performance and pedagogy major from Birmingham, AL.
More information about the Mann Center’s ongoing academic integrity initiative can be found at www.samford.edu/manncenter/academic-integrity.
Founded in 2008, the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership is based in the Office of the Provost at Samford University. The center supports teaching, research and service across the Samford University campus.
As a university-wide resource, the center sponsors curricular and co-curricular initiatives with Samford’s professional schools and other academic programs. Ongoing projects include an online resource center on academic integrity, the Courageous Conversations dialogues and the Mann Medal in Ethics and Leadership. Learn more at www.samford.edu/manncenter.
November 16, 2011 - Why don’t we talk about this? That’s the question that the Mann Center’s Courageous Conversation series is asking this week.
A student and faculty panel will discuss why certain topics are considered taboo in our society. The conversation will take place this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Bolding Studio.
The panel includes Josh Motta, Katelyn Wilbanks and Kris Boyd, as well as faculty members Dr. Betsy Dobbins, Dr. Dennis Sansom and Dr. Don Sandley.
The event will also feature guest speaker, Guy Chmieleski, who currently serves as University Minister at Belmont University.
Last year, Belmont experienced a real life Courageous Conversation when a lesbian coach resigned, causing a dispute among students, faculty, alumni and those in the community. The Mann Center’s Courageous Conversation will use Belmont’s experience as the foundation for their series. The organizers hope to promote conversations about a wide range of issues such as homosexuality, political ideology, religion and racial diversity, as well as any other issues that students raise during the evening.
“Our goal is to help students understand that it’s okay to talk about (and disagree on) these topics, and that it can be done respectfully and productively,” Azalea Hulbert, the Mann Center’s program manager, said.
The Mann Center is involved in a wide range of initiatives both on and off campus, one of them being the Courageous Conversation Lecture Series, which is designed to “promote the moral development of Samford students.”
September 15, 2011 - The department of student leadership and programming launches its monthly “Leadership Lunch” series on Sept. 29 with Dr. Andy Westmoreland, president of Samford University.
Hosted in the Howard Room, students will have the opportunity to engage various university and community leaders on topics related to leadership. The featured speakers for October and November are Kristina Scott, executive director of Alabama Possible, and Dr. John Knapp of the Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership.
Janna Pennington, director for student leadership and programming, oversees this new endeavor. Pennington saw a need to expand student leadership programming and used the summer to develop a program that would allow students to engage one another and the featured speaker.
“The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for students to learn about leadership and grow as leaders no matter what part of campus they’re involved in, or if they’re not involved anywhere yet maybe participating in a leadership lunch would inspire them,” Pennington said.
Pennington said she wants the series to focus on “big picture” issues related to leadership; issues that would provoke conversation among students even after the lunch hour.
Pennington said the first leadership lunch will cover Dr. Westmoreland’s viewpoints on leadership, the second will focus on the service aspect of leadership and the third and final leadership lunch of the semester will center on ethical leadership.
Junior accounting major Nick Boardman plans to attend the first leadership lunch with Westmoreland and hopes to gain some insightful lessons.
“I hope to learn how to lead an organization or peers more effectively, as well as practical tips on being a Christ-like leader,” Boardman said. “Being able to pull from the knowledge of someone who has literally lead thousands and thousands of people is invaluable.”
The Leadership Lunch series is open to all Samford students and registration is now open for the Sept. 29 lunch with Dr. Westmoreland via OrgSync.
Lunch will be provided for participants. For more information or to offer suggestions on future topics, email Janna Pennington at email@example.com.
September 1, 2011 - The Mann Center recently organized a six-week service practicum in South Africa, where students from Samford's Brock School of Business worked at a micro-enterprise center that creates economic opportunities in townships where much of the country's poverty is concentrated. The project was conducted in collaboration with Living Way, a non-profit organization that empowers the poor with "meaningful opportunities to earn a decent living" through job training and small business development.
The student team conducted research and worked on site at the center near Cape Town to develop strategies and methods for better training outcomes. Team leader Kley Sippel called the project "a capstone experience for my business education," explaining that it "expanded my network internationally, increased my cultural literacy, and provided an opportunity for undergraduate research – all fulfilling goals of mine since freshman year and better equipping me for graduation." The Mann Center continues to partner with Stellenbosch University in South Africa in a new program to develop student leaders as agents of positive change. Cadres of students at Samford and Stellenbosch are studying together via live videoconferences and networking on a Facebook group. In January 2012 Dr. John Knapp will take a class of Samford students to Stellenbosh for three weeks of study about the social and economic challenges facing contemporary South Africa.
September 1, 2011 - Mann Center Director John Knapp was with a small group of educators who visited North Korea's Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in July. During a five-day itinerary, he spoke to the university's leaders and graduate students about the role of higher education in developing ethical leaders. In a lecture entitled, 'The University as a Community of Moral Formation,' he focused on such leadership qualities as commitment to the common good of all citizens and openness to collaboration with others in global society.
The mission was organized by the Consortium for Global Education to explore opportunities for interaction with this new institution in North Korea, especially in support of humanitarian efforts. While traveling in Asia, Dr. Knapp also visited Beijing, where he met with an official at the U.S. embassy to discuss opportunities for university partnerships in China.
September 1, 2011 - Findings of the Samford Survey on Academic Integrity, conducted last spring, are now being used to evaluate the university's effectiveness in promoting ethical standards for academic work. The university-wide survey of students and faculty examined practices, experiences and perceptions regarding multiple types of cheating. Conducted in collaboration with the International Center for Academic Integrity, the survey has been used by nearly 200 colleges and universities in the United States, making it possible to analyze Samford's findings in comparison to others. During the fall semester, the Mann Center will use the findings to assist other academic units in strengthening academic integrity.
In addition to its role on the Samford University campus, the Mann Center offers a range of year-round programs and services for external organizations and the general public. Some examples from this summer include:
The Mann Medal in Ethics and Leadership - Awarded to Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, at a community luncheon in July. Intended to recognize contributions to a better society, the medal recognized Colson's three decades of international work on behalf of prisoners and their families, including advocacy for penal reform. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2012 medalist.
Ethics Education for Financial Advisors - Dr. John Knapp is leading seven national seminars this year for professionals in the Investment Management Consultants Association, provider of the CIMA designation.
Alabama Association of Nonprofits - Dr. John Knapp led a seminar on ethics and public trust for non-profit executives. It was simulcast to three meeting sites across the state.
August 29, 2011 - The Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership has contributed substantially to teaching and learning across our campus since it was established three years ago. During this period, the Brock School of Business has been an excellent steward in housing the center and supporting its development.
The Mann Center is well-established and actively engaged with all eight of our academic schools. With the beginning of the fall semester, the Center will be incorporated into the operations of the Office of the Provost where it will be optimally positioned to serve the whole campus. We have conferred with Marvin Mann, the Samford alumnus and generous donor who made the center possible, and he enthusiastically supports this new positioning for the center, which honors his late wife.
I encourage all faculty and staff to view the Mann Center as an available resource and platform for innovation and collaboration. Dr. John Knapp, university professor and the center’s director, is always eager to hear from you about your interests. The website at www.samford.edu/manncenter provides a good overview of the center’s mission and its many current and past activities.
In the days ahead, you will hear more as Dr. Knapp works with academic representatives across the university and the university’s office of marketing and communication to focus and communicate strategically the scope of the Mann Center. As we begin the new academic year, I wanted you to be aware of this new development in Academic Affairs.
July 18, 2011 - The Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership awarded its inaugural Mann Medal to Chuck Colson at a luncheon Monday, July 18. Samford’s Brad Radice reports.
July 13, 2011 - Chuck Colson, founder of the Prison Fellowship and former aide to President Richard Nixon, will speak at Samford University Sunday, July 17, in a 7 p.m. event that is free and open to the public.
“An Evening with Chuck Colson” will present a commentary on today’s culture from a Christian world view. The program will be in Wright Center Concert Hall. For more information, go to www.samford.edu/chuck-colson.aspx.
Colson founded the Prison Fellowship in 1976 after serving a prison sentence for obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. The fellowship is the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families, with ministry in 117 countries.
Colson also will receive the first Mann Medal in Ethics and Leadership from the Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership at Samford. The award will recognize his work in penal system reform and for serving prisoners and their families. The award will be presented during a luncheon at Birmingham’s Harbert Center Monday, July 18. Luncheon reservations are required by calling (205) 726-4634.
“The Mann Medal in Ethics and Leadership is Samford University’s recognition of leaders who have made significant contributions to a more just and ethical society,” said John Knapp, director of the Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership. “Mr. Colson is a longtime advocate of penal system reform and his organization, Prison Fellowship, has served countless convicts, victims of crime and justice officers worldwide.”
Colson will also speak to Samford’s annual Pastors School Monday night, July 18.
An attorney, Colson served as special counsel to Nixon during 1969-73. He became a Christian in 1973, the same year he served seven months in Maxwell Federal Prison in Montgomery, Ala. In 1991 he launched BreakPoint, a nationwide radio commentary that provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends.
A frequent speaker and prolific author on Christian subjects, Colson has received 15 honorary doctorates and the 1993 Templeton Prize, the world’s largest prize in the field of religion worth more than a million dollars. Colson donated the prize money to further the work of the Prison Fellowship, as he does all his speaking fees and royalties.
February 23, 2011 - Nominations are now being accepted for the Mann Medal in Ethics and Leadership, awarded by Samford University to recognize achievements that have contributed to a more just and ethical world. Nominees may be individuals, groups or organizations from any field of practice. Following are several key considerations in selecting the honoree:
The work recognized with this award must address a clear need or problem facing society. The results achieved by this work must have significance on a large scale. The work must be exemplary of leadership that inspires others.
Designed by world-renowned artist Malcolm Grear, the Mann Medal bears the “Sheaf of Grain” emblem of the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, symbolizing leadership that cultivates a better world. One medalist each year is honored at a special event in Birmingham, AL, and invited to speak to an audience of university constituencies and community leaders. Click here for a nomination form in pdf format. Nomination deadline for the 2011 Mann Medal: Monday, March 28.