Troy University has established a Free Enterprise Scholars program in an effort to combat “woke business.”
In the program offered through the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy in the Sorrell College of Business, students take part in reading groups and a monthly MJC event, and write an op-ed about free enterprise.
Scholars will also attend conferences and field trips, and take a course on the moral foundations of capitalism.
The program is spearheaded by Dr. Allen Mendenhall, the associate dean of Sorrell College which oversees the Johnson Center. He recently appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” to detail the anti-woke initiative.
According to Mendenhall, businesses can conduct operations in a manner that is consistent with sound moral and ethical standards without divisive political concepts.
“Well, there’s a negative take, which is that we’re anti-woke and we’re trying to teach the dangers of wokeism to sound business,” the professor told co-host Steve Doocy. “But there’s also a positive side to that. The positive side is that businesses acting ethically in good faith follow rules, treat each other with respect, and enable cooperation and trust among diverse individuals.”
“So businesses provide value by producing goods and services that make our lives easier and better,” he said. “They don’t need to purchase absolution for their hard-earned profits, or boost their brand with progressive politics.
“In advanced countries that enjoy economic freedom and stable institutions, most of the businesses, most of the time, benefit society and generate more widespread health and prosperity.”
Mendenhall took aim at the financial services industry’s use of environmental, social and corporate governance criteria. The controversial policies emphasize investment in companies that incorporate progressive measures into their official business practices.
“Asset management corporations, screen companies based on their ESG criteria. And they create investment funds that support ESG-compliant businesses,” he said. “Well, let’s say you’re an asset management company investing state pension funds. Well, you’re probably investing in areas where funds are underperforming.
“So, you’re yielding fewer returns for your shareholders, but also for the beneficiaries of this trust. That’s a breach of fiduciary duty, that’s unethical.”
According to Mendenhall, the program has been well received among students, who were “very enthusiastic” about its curriculum.
“We’ve actually had several students apply — it’s completely voluntary. We accept students by application. I was expecting that we’d get a lot of students from a variety of viewpoints,” he said. “So far, students who have applied seem to be very enthusiastic about the program.”
Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL