Banking and finance are essential to the functioning of a healthy, vibrant, growing economy. A well-functioning financial system provides funding for new projects and for individuals with temporary need for additional resources, while allowing savers to benefit from their unused resources and to manage their risk. A malfunctioning or unstable financial system does not provide funding to the projects that are most beneficial to society, exposes savers to unnecessary risks, and can lead to instability resulting in uncertainty that paralyzes economic activity. A well-functioning and sustainable financial system requires a suitable regulatory framework, financial institutions with capable leaders, knowledgeable consumers of financial services, and an engaged and informed voting public.
It is Washington College’s mission to prepare emerging citizen leaders for their roles as policy makers who craft and enforce the rules that govern our financial system, as executives who responsibly guide financial institutions, as business leaders who understand the implications of their decisions when interacting with financial institutions, as thoughtful decision makers for their households, and as citizens who elect policy makes and ultimately determine the structure of our institutions. Washington College believes that an interdisciplinary, liberal arts approach to education provides our students with the tools to make the informed and ethical decisions that help us to build a well-functioning and sustainable financial system.
The Sustainable Finance Initiative at Washington College exposes students to methodologies, ideas and insights from different disciplines to help them understand, analyze and evaluate the ethical, economic, historical, mathematical, and environmental issues associated with modern-day finance.
Students might study examples of financial crises, such as the tulip mania of 1593 and the 2008 subprime crisis, examine common causes and relate them to the specific historical contexts. They could explore tools to analyze complex systems that are used by biologists or computer scientists; or discuss readings of the great moral philosophers and apply classic ethical principles to financial case studies. They might learn about corporate social responsibility programs form a managerial perspective; examine how finance issues affect the consideration of the environmental consequences of a potential project, or use game theory to analyze the interactions in our financial system.