Carmina Mancenon, a joint-degree student at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the School of Management, is one of 12 business students chosen by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) to participate in a two-week program in Germany and Poland this summer, which uses the conduct of executives and managers in Nazi-occupied Europe as a way to reflect on ethics in business and leadership today.
Now in its eighth year of operation, FASPE provides a unique historical lens to engage graduate students in professional schools as well as early-stage practitioners in five fields (business, journalism, law, medicine, and seminary) in an intensive course of study focused on contemporary ethical issues in their professions.
The FASPE Business program offers an approach to ethics and professionalism that differs from the usual classroom experience by providing a holistic curriculum that looks beyond the specifics of formal rules to focus on ethical problems faced by individual leaders in the contemporary corporate setting. Daily seminars are led by specialized faculty who engage fellows in discussions and critical thinking about both the historical and the contemporary. The program is strengthened by the diverse perspectives of its participants and the power of place and context.
“By educating students about the causes of the Holocaust and the power of their chosen professions, FASPE seeks to instill a sense of professional responsibility for the ethical and moral choices that the Fellows will make in their careers and in their professional relationships,” said David Goldman, FASPE’s founder and chairman.
Prior to World War II, German professionals were well regarded internationally. In many respects, they set the standard for a commitment to quality of practice and for independence from state and political influence. Yet, leaders and practitioners in each of the professions, and often the institutions they represented, were fundamentally involved in designing, enabling, and/or executing the crimes of Nazi Germany. FASPE studies the perpetrators to emphasize the essential role of professionals and to ask how and why professionals abandon their ethical guideposts.
The FASPE Business program examines the roles played by business executives and their enterprises in the Nazi state, underscoring the reality that moral codes governing corporate action and business leaders can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences. With this historical background, the Business fellows are better positioned (and more willing) to confront contemporary issues.
“As I desire to work within the profit-oriented financial industry after business school, FASPE holds the ideal building blocks to help me build a personal toolkit for interpreting business situations with an ethical lens,” said Mancenon. “I also hope I’ll become more aware of how different stakeholders (such as the government, community, etc.) play into business situations, and thus be able to make better business decisions as a result,” she said.
Mancenon received a BSE in operations research and financial engineering from Princeton University and worked at BlackRock in New York City prior to coming to Yale. Born in the Philippines and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Mancenon has worked in the technology sector in India, health care in South Africa, and policy in Mexico. This summer, she will be working at Bridgewater and KKR, both global investment firms. Read Carmina’s bio.
Mancenon joins a diverse group of 63 FASPE fellows across all five programs who were chosen through a competitive process that drew close to 1,000 applicants from around the world. FASPE covers all program costs, including travel, food, and lodging.
The experience of the Business fellows is enhanced by traveling alongside Journalism and Law fellows, who together – in formal and informal settings – consider how ethical constructs and norms in their respective professions align and differ. In 2017, the three groups will begin their trip in Berlin on May 21 and travel on to Krakow and Oświęcim (the town in which Auschwitz is located), Poland, on May 26. In Berlin, the program includes museum visits, meeting with a Holocaust survivor, and educational workshops at the House of the Wannsee Conference, the site where state and Nazi Party agencies convened in 1942 to coordinate plans for the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” In Krakow, fellows will continue their seminars at Jagiellonian University, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities, and at Auschwitz, they will be guided by the distinguished educational staff of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
After the program, each fellow will submit an essay focused on a contemporary ethical issue of his or her choice. Select essays are published in the annual FASPE Journal, which showcases work in all five disciplines.
Business fellows from prior years are now working in various positions in financial institutions, investment vehicles, and other businesses.
FASPE maintains long-term relationships with its fellows in order to sustain commitment to ethical behavior and to provide a forum for continued dialogue. Today, the Fellowship boasts a total of 384 alumni across its five programs.
“FASPE is committed to a long-term relationship with fellows in order to sustain the ideas raised during the program. FASPE fosters an active network of alumni and provides a variety of opportunities for fellows to exchange ideas and to meet to continue the dialogue started during our trips as they move forward in their careers,” said Thorin R. Tritter, FASPE’s Executive Director. “The centerpiece of these efforts is our annual Alumni Reunion & Symposium where fellows from all years discuss current issues in their respective fields and participate in various interdisciplinary networking activities.”