I am passionate about these courses and hope similar interdisciplinary courses are offered elsewhere. Many of the insights I gained about the financial system apply to the interaction of all corporations with society. The Corporations and Society Initiative may lead to more courses as well as more engagements within other existing courses on these issues.
Early in my career I taught Decision Making Under Uncertainty to MBA students, Corporate Finance at multiple levels, and various PhD-level courses, particularly a new course on Information in Financial Market.
Since 2014, I have been teaching new interdisciplinary courses at the MBA and undergraduate levels, attempting to draw braodly from different schools and departments at Stanford. The initial titles were Finance and Society, but have evolved and expanded to teaching about the internet and, broadly, about Corporations and Society, with emphasis on finance but going beyond.
Business and Government: Power and Engagement in the 21st Century World
GSBGEN 593 | Fall 2021
Co-taught with Robert Siegel
Complex interactions among governments, businesses, and other institutions such as media, non-governmental, and international organizations, shape our world and our lives. In this course we will explore the workings of these interactions and the challenges they present for societies around the globe. As specific examples, we will discuss the 21st century economic and political forces affecting internet governance, global supply chains, and the workings of different legal systems.
We will see how the competence and integrity of people and institutions, their respect of human rights, and the structure and effectiveness of governance and accountability mechanisms in the private and the public sectors, are key determinants of the outcomes. At one extreme, people and institutions may be highly effective but lack concern for human rights. At the other extreme, compassionate individuals and institutions might be ineffective or incompetent. It is also a truism that power can corrupt and may be abused. In fact, standard success metrics in business and in government, combined with weak governance mechanisms, may encourage and enable such abuse. The course will challenge you to consider your own roles as business leaders and as citizens, and your opportunities to help create trustworthy institutions and markets.
Power in Finance
GSBGEN 538 | February 12 – March, 12 2021
Co-taught with Heiner Schulz
There is a growing sense that both capitalism and democracy are in crisis. How do power structures in the private and public sectors determine economic and political outcomes? Is the focus on financial metrics and markets to blame for the eroding trust in corporations and governments? This interdisciplinary course explores these issues by developing in-depth understanding of the interactions between individuals, corporations, and governments that shape economic and political systems and their evolution. Topics will include the power of media, culture and corporate governance, corporate and investor power, the role of watchdogs, the special power of central banks, whistle-blowers and the justice system. Visitors with extensive relevant experiences and discussions of current events will enrich each class.
Finance, Corporations and Society
ECON 143, POLISCI 127A, PUBLPOL 143, INTLPOL 227 | September 14 – November 20, 2020
This interdisciplinary course explores the economic, political, and cultural forces that shape the financial system and, through this system, have major effects on the economy and on society. You will gain an understanding of how the interactions between individuals, corporations, governments, and the media can help the financial system and the economy work better or in turn allow those with better information and control to harm others unnecessarily. Topics include the basic principles of investment and funding, corporations and their governance, financial markets and institutions, and political and ethical issues. We will discuss recent and ongoing news events and analyses immediately relevant to the material. The approach will be rigorous and analytical but not overly mathematical. A few visitors will further enrich the discussion.
Is the Internet Broken?
GSBGEN 578 | April 8-19, 2019
Co-taught with Jonathan Dotan
This interdisciplinary course examines the promise, peril, and possible future of the Internet and the impact of the World Wide Web on our lives. We will explore the most pressing contemporary issues facing the Internet, including debates on privacy, antitrust, freedom of speech, access, neutrality, and regulation. We will also unpack the claim that “decentralization,” as it has grown with new technologies such as blockchain and crypto assets, captures the original vision of the Internet. A key question we will address is: What should be the roles of markets, governments, and different stakeholders in shaping the Internet? Students will have the opportunity to reflect on their own motivations and roles as digital consumers, potential innovators, and future leaders in this process.. Guests from the tech sector and elsewhere will enrich our discussion.
Finance and Society
FIN 332 | January 7 – March 15, 2019
Co-taught with Heiner Schulz
This interdisciplinary course explores the economic, political, and behavioral forces that shape the financial system and, through this system, have a major impact on the economy and society. You will gain an in-depth understanding of how the complex interactions between individuals, corporations, governments, and the media can help markets work or, in turn, generate governance failures and inefficiencies. Visitors with varied experiences will enrich our discussions of key questions about the workings of capitalism in liberal democracies.