University Bans Ethics Seminar Due to Christian Contents

Country: Germany

Date of incident: March 18, 2008

Category: Government Restrictions

Attack against: Faith

Area of case: Education / Private

The Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich withdraws recognition from "Management Ethics on a Christian Foundation" seminar because of its Christian content. It is said to violate “political correctness” and to have too little reference to the curriculum of business and administration ethics.

In February 2008 the dean of Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU), Prof. Dr. Dr. Manuel René Theisen, deprived Prof. Dr. Friedrich Hanssmann`s seminar "Management Ethics on a Christian Foundation" of its credit points and had the lecture notes deleted from the universities internet platform. He argued that the seminar violated “political correctness” and had too little reference to the curriculum of business and administration ethics.
Prof Dr. Friedrich Hanssmann, 79 years of age, has held a chair at the faculty for almost 30 years. Most of his life he taught “Operations Research”. Only in the last couple of years, he had started looking into ethical questions in this sector. Hanssmann held the seminar "Management Ethics on a Christian Foundation" in addition to the course “Christian values in economy and society” for two years.
The lecture notes outline that he taught about Christian values insofar as they were relevant to economical ethics: such as the Ten Commandments, the care for one’s neighbour and creation and the individual’s relationship to God. It also discusses extensively areas in business, to which Christian morals could be applied: for instance honest marketing, genuine accounting, a serving attitude in terms of altruism towards the customer instead of just being profit-driven, a solid financial policy, a supporting, staff-oriented personnel policy such as enabling longer maternity breaks than required by law.
First a student, then a journalist disapproved of the lectures content. Journalist Martin Thurau wrote an article in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” in which he attacked Hanssman’s lectures massively. He called the lectures “wrong-headed” and a “wild mixture of economical formulas, economic faith, christian tract and fundamentalism as hard as bone”. He considered certain ideas intolerable, such as that there was a connection between Christian values and economic success and that there would be less unemployment if there were fewer mothers in employment.
The seminar became too delicate for the faculty. The dean removed the scripts from the internet and deprived the seminar of its credit points. After this, the students stayed away and Prof. Dr. Friedrich Hanssmann had to close the course.