In a senior class I teach frequently, we ask our students to develop a philosophy statement. A statement of values as a young person getting ready to enter the marketing profession. We ask them to consider a very heady topic. To consider carefully how to articulate their ideas concerning the major social contributions of marketing. To write thoughtfully about why marketing is an important and valuable profession. To take a stand and articulate why they believe it and how they will live it in their professional lives. Before they are professionals.
It is no easy task.
As a professor I have often thought about my “Teaching Philosophy”. As a communication professional I have also considered carefully what I believe to be ethical and value-focused communication principles. As a marketing professor, I walk in two worlds and my obligation to the marketing profession is to prepare students I am privileged to teach for their launch into their professional careers.
As such there are two lenses I must consider when thinking through my professional philosophy:
- Being an ethical professor
- Being an ethical marketer
I can look to the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) for guidelines on professional ethics for professors, and the AMA (American Marketing Association) for the guidelines for professional marketers.
According to the AAUP professors should:
- Seek and state the truth as they see it. We must practice intellectual honesty, develop and improve our scholarly competence, an exercise critical self-discipline and judgment.
- Encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. We must respect our students, foster honest academic conduct, ensure our evaluations of our students reflect their true merit, respect confidentiality, protect academic freedom.
- Be respectful of colleagues and their disciplines. We must treat our colleagues and their work with as much respect as we give our own discipline.
- Be aware of our rights as citizens. We are both professionals and individual citizens who can speak on our own behalf. Our role requires that we have academic freedom to speak our minds and points of view.
According to the AMA marketing professionals should:
- Do no harm.
- Foster trust in the marketing system.
- Embrace ethical values of honesty, responsibility, fairness, respect, transparency, and citizenship.
So it’s my job to do both. At the same time. It is up to me to take these guidelines and make something from them. To practice them in a way that is meaningful and models my own principles and values.
As I look at these guidelines I see how they morph and come together as one. To do no harm means respecting my students and colleagues, fostering trust is bigger than just the marketing system, it is in the pursuit of learning and trust in the classroom. Being responsible, fair, respectful, transparent and a good citizen all link back to the ethical practices of a professor. And a marketer. And a communication professional
With these as my foundation it makes sense that my personal/professional philosophy is one where learning is a central component. Actually it is the whole of who I am and who I hope to be. I cannot imagine a life where I am not constantly learning something new, perfecting what I have done before, changing and growing.
It is from the foundation of the AAUP and the AMA, along with my desire to always be learning that drives my philosophy.
I am an educator. I am a marketing educator. I love what I do. Every day I learn something new. Every day I have the opportunity to help individuals in my classroom experience and learn new things. It is a gift that I have been given. Even on my most difficult days, when I take a moment and think about what I do and why I do it, as long as I remember the learning and the students, I can get up and face another sea of faces and challenge them to do their best.
Learn something new every day. Appreciate everything as an opportunity to grow and learn something new. Be passionate. Care deeply. Challenge my students as I challenge myself. Be honest, fair, and above all, stay focused on the end goal — to educate a new generation of marketing professionals who will change the world.