Such an education helps students "to understand that life is not about them; it is about serving others who are in need, which is what we are called to do." Students should be prepared "to recognize their vocation is more than a job and they are called to greatness, 'magnanimity,' especially in dire times." This helps them to "focus less on self and more on the situation at hand" and to bring about "true humility." This path helps students be optimistic and trusting in innovative ways and help contribute to solutions
"Life is full of disruptions, simply because we can't predict the future," Jay Wesley Richards, assistant research professor at the Catholic University of America's Busch School of Business, told CNA. "I think two of the most important business skills are simply virtues. One is courage-which means you'll act even if you might fail. The other is resilience or anti-fragility-which means you learn from disruption and failure. The pandemic, and more precisely, the shutdown in response to it, is a historic and massive disruption. But disruption itself is part of life."
Richards said one of his classes this semester had been discussing looming disruptions from technology and "the need to develop virtues and skills that humans will always do better than machines."
"The discussion was mostly abstract until spring break, when the semester itself was disrupted by the pandemic shutdown, and we had to move online," he said. "Suddenly, we were using disruptive (if imperfect) video-conferencing technology! At that point, students started asking more questions about disruption in the economy."
Economic downturns in the business cycle are a standard topic in business education. Munoz said a pandemic is one of many possibilities taught through case studies, role playing, business planning, and discussions.
"We focus on going beyond a disruption and thinking 'so what? How do we continue?'"
"Instead of the business coming to a stop, we think: 'and what else can we do? How else can we do it?'" she said.
Michael Welker, an economics professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, reflected on the need for creativity given the conditions of a pandemic event.
"Such an event, in our lifetimes, is one that is unprecedented, complex, and so widespread, that there is a need for courage, openness to failure, iteration of ideas and experiments, and a need for management decisions to frame their enterprise cultures to engender this powerful way that human beings image the Creator," Welker said.
Efforts to re-open businesses and other social venues, including places of worship, have come to be the focus of debate, planning, and activity.
Welker said the focus on "restarting the economy" means a focus on "a critical aspect of human life--a prudent and wise engagement with the world in many dimensions." These dimensions include work, leisure, community, worship, and recreation. He suggested any approach to "restarting" the economy should take place in a context that recognizes "the great dignity of work" with the added sense of "the essential things, which are beyond just 'making a living'."
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"This disruption has brought much multi-dimensional damage to people," he said. "I believe authorities are attempting to walk the fine line between a serious and known risk and the need to get people into 'normal' living and acting, with the heightened concerns for safety and health."
Sovak said that while there was indeed economic disruption, in part the economy "never really stopped." Consumers continued to purchase, many people found different ways to trade, and the government infused additional money seeking a positive impact.
"If we are discussing how to get people back into the mix of work, travel, or play, again, much of that never stopped with work at home, it just got more creative," he said.
At the same time, Sovak said that a too cautious approach to re-opening business will mean many businesses close, unable to adapt to the coronavirus epidemic.
There is also another risk.
"The risk of being too reckless means this thing (the epidemic) will come back around in a couple of months and bring about an even more devastating grind to the economy," he added. "Again, the virtue of prudence comes to mind on how to tell what the times call for."