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Theology of Work Confronting Big Issues in the STEM Professions: Globalization and Ethics.

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Presentation on theme: "Theology of Work Confronting Big Issues in the STEM Professions: Globalization and Ethics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theology of Work Confronting Big Issues in the STEM Professions: Globalization and Ethics

2 For this session, we will discuss only briefly two major issues for Christians engaged in the STEM professions. They are: Globalization Ethics

3 “Globalization can... be defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and visa versa.” (Don Lewis). Examples of these are:  International Development philosophies formed by such organizations as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund  Weaponry and war technology  Informational technology, the internet, cable TV  International pop culture, i.e. MTV, commercial products

4 More and more, urban societies are becoming homogenized into a generic world culture aided by... o Travel from everywhere to everywhere o Urbanization, and its homogenization o Global economy o International job transfer o Freedom and access of information o English as the trade/scientific language o The globalization of violence

5 The effects of Economic Globalization are felt in various ways: 1. The global dominance of the market economy rather that state economies 2. The global interchange of goods, services and scientific know how 3. The phenomenon of doing business multinationally 4. The global spread of capitalism and scientific and technological advance

6 How would you grade it? Is it... Salvific? Helpful? Neutral? Damaging? Demonic?

7 There are some benefits in increased international trade and technological advance: 1. Greater productivity 2. Cheaper consumer products 3. Greater employment 4. Increased economic welfare 5. Improved quality of life

8 On the other hand, there are adverse effects of increased international trade and technological advance: 1. Loss of employment in both industrialized and less industrialized countries. 2. Damage to the biosphere 3. Loss of community 4. Increased labor concerns, poor conditions and terms of work 5. Cultural identity issues 6. International competition for technological breakthroughs or advance without moral constraints

9 “The decisive question for the West is its capacity to direct and discipline capitalism with an ethic strong enough to do so. I myself don’t believe the West can do it.” (Singapore economist) “Originally the menace of unrestrained economic impulse was held in check by the Protestant ethic---people worked in response to their calling. But now, with this ethic dissolved, including its moral attitudes toward hard work and saving, only hedonism remains.” (The Call, 134-5)

10 “Capitalism, having defeated all challenges, such as socialism, now faces its greatest challenge----itself, because it devours the very virtues it needs to thrive.” (The Call, 135)

11 Reviewing what has been learned thus far, and applying it to globalization, we can say The mission starts with God himself 2. God is on a “global” mission 3. God invites humankind to cooperate with Him in the transformation of the world. We become “world-makers” 4. Being on the mission involves two characteristics-- -relinquishment (giving up securities), and movement (out of comfort zones) 5. God’s global mission is not the homogenization of the world, but rather, the blessings of all nations.

12 6. God’s mission is global, but not homogenization into a single world culture, or economy or language. 7. The danger of globalization is that it relives the Tower of Babel in homogenous arrogant autonomy. The alternative is found in Pentecost in its unity in diversity also expressed in the New Jerusalem in international, inter-racial community

13 Capitalism and Globalization are “powers”. Originally created good by Christ (Col 1:15ff), good structures and spiritual realities were formed to provide an ordered cosmos for us to live. However, they have taken on a life of their own and have become corrupted, fallen. Christ disarmed the powers and showed their puny strength by his death on the cross (Col 2:13-15). We grapple with the powers according to their reality, critique them against the Word and call them to accountability before God.

14 Is God in Globalization? Yes and No. 1. In some sense, those nations most profoundly influenced by Christianity have led the way into Globalization based on some fundamental Christian theological ethics. 2. Globalization may be part of the apocalyptic vision of Christ in providing the means by which all peoples hear or experience the benefits of the Gospel 3. However, Globalization is not the coming of the Kingdom of God, nor does it produce it.

15 However, Globalization is an opportunity to work and serve towards the vision of the New Jerusalem through fellowship, prophetic discernment, in proclamation. “Christ is bringing these principalities, authorities and dominions under the laws of God for the purposes of God as part of the mercy of God, and... All believers are called to be agents of this reconciliation process for the glory of God (John Stackhouse)

16 Why do we work? 1. For survival: provision for one’s needs 2. For identity and meaning: expression of gifts and talents 3. For love: towards family, dependents, and others in need 4. For service: contributing to neighbors, serving the Kingdom of God 5. For joy: in that experiencing the creation or discovery of that which is new, brings a human sense of elation 6. For growth: for spiritual formation and sanctification 7. For the Kingdom: that will last forever 8. For God

17 These ten foundational business practices are given in greater detail in your Materials section: The STEM professions have similar purposes as does Business Strives to be profitable and sustainable in the long run. 2. Strives for excellence, operates with integrity and has a system of accountability. 3. Has a kingdom motivation, purpose and plan that is shared and embraced with the senior management and owners.

18 4. Aims at holistic transformation of individuals and communities in ways that are spirit-enhancing. 5. Seeks the holistic welfare of employees 6. Seeks to maximize the kingdom impact of its financial and non-financial resources 7. Models Christ-like servant leadership, and develops it in others, 8. Intentionally implements ethical Christ- honoring practice that does not conflict with the gospel.

19 9. Is pro-active in intercession and seeks the prayer support of others. 10. Seeks to harness the power of networking with like-minded organizations. In your work context, how many of these practices are conscientiously followed as ethical principles?

20 1. To create for personal gain or power 2. To create that which demeans, destroys the human spirit or the human community 3. To create that which is shoddy or inferior 4. To create out of a spirit of relentless competition, just to best an opponent 5. To steal research, ideas, material, in violation of internationally accepted laws 6. To create at the expense of the natural environment

21 7. To create intolerable work environments obsessed by accomplishments 8. To create only to earn profit from those who pay the highest, ignoring the needs of the masses 9. To create meaningless gadgets that contribute little or nothing to the human spirit 10. To improvise data or theories to justify dishonest conclusions 11. To obsess on secrecy when not needed, or to expose on transparency for short-term gain 12. To justify the means in favor of its ends

22 In general the STEM professions are guarded from many ethical issues by the following: 1. The nature of the scientific rules of inquiry and self examination. 2. Peer review boards 3. Scrutiny of the marketplace 4. A spirit of humility that recognizes that discovery and creation is only tentative and leads to further refinement or advances

23 1. Our technological advances outstrip our ethical judgments. 2. Marketplace demands often push decisions beyond an understanding of unintended consequences. 3. There are competing ethical principles and constituencies that confuse the question of “what is the common good?” 4. Just because something appears “good”, does not necessarily make it so, in the long run. 5. The constant tension between quality and quantity

24 6. Limited perspectives, in that one advance in science or technology may deter progress in other areas. 7. National or company hubris (pride) may trump objective reasoning. 8. Changing market conditions dictate changing technologies with the risk of great loss or displacement. 9. Technology becomes an end in itself or is seen as the means of transcendence.

25 1. In a spirit of humility and cautiousness 2. Seeking guidance from “ethical panels” and knowledgeable Christian and religious resources 3. Creating and implementing agreed and practical “codes of ethics”, coherent with the mission and vision statements of the workplace 4. Using the position of an ombudsman who appropriately raises ethical questions and issues. 5. Officialize an appropriate feedback system that allows for orderly complaint for those who question the practices of the workplace

26 6. Respect the minority or individual position of an employee who believes that an action or attitude violates their own conscience. 7. Compare the company’s code of ethics with those parallel companies’ positions in order to evaluate and critique one’s own. 8. Enlist the directors’, management and stockholders’ support for ethical positions. 9. Consider that the ethical position of the workplace covers not only the internal dealings of the company, but also its “social responsibility” outside. 10. Allow employees to engage in community betterment by their use of matching contributions, volunteer workdays, and an environment of joy.

27  1.Is it against the rules and professional values of your organization?  2.Does it feel good, correct in doing this?  3.Is it legal, not contrary to any law?  4.Can it reflect negatively on you or your organization?  5.Who would most suffer as a consequence of your action?

28  6.Would you feel shame if others became aware of your course of action?  7.Is there an alternative action that would not have caused such an ethical conflict?  8.How would your action have looked if it had been described in a newspaper?  9.What would a reasonable person think of your action? 10.Are you able to sleep contentedly if you were to do this deed?

29 The STEM professions lead the marketplace in innovation and creation and so have an extraordinary responsibility to look as long-term consequences in terms of the processes and effects of globalization and of their ethical positions. Technology run rampant without these concerns, return us to the setting of the Tower of Babel with its rush to be “god-like”, resulting in confusion, the breakdown of community and communication, and the destruction of the God- given human spirit.

30 Feel free in insert below your questions and feedback on what you have learned in this PowerPoint:


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