Institute of the Weltethos Foundation
at the University of Tübingen

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‘Hans Küng was more than a theologian’ – Gohl in Wirtschaftswoche

The Swiss theologian Hans Küng was more than a “church rebel” and “critic of the Pope.” He should also be remembered as a global citizen who encouraged entrepreneurs to act responsibly – and who pursued the vision of a social market economy as a global peace project. A guest article by Dr. Christopher Gohl of the Weltethos Institute in Wirtschaftswoche.

Due to the numerous crises and scandals in the economic and financial world, it became increasingly clear to Hans Küng in his later years that the global economy needed an ethical framework. He was therefore committed to promoting awareness of a basic ethical consensus, based on the idea of a global ethic. To this end, together with leading business ethicists and entrepreneurs, he developed the manifesto “Global Business Ethics – Consequences for the World Economy”. Since its presentation – with an introduction by Jeffrey Sachs – at UN Headquarters New York in 2009, the Manifesto has been signed by a considerable number of notable figures from business, politics, academia, and religion. At the time, Küng found his best-known supporter in former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Thus the journalist Jan Feddersen wrote in the newspaper taz on April 7, 2021: ” (…) in the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan he found his closest fellow and friend for this project.”

But what does a global ethic actually look like in business? What do companies need to learn in order to operate responsibly for their fellow people, the environment, and posterity? What do we have to learn? Since its foundation in 2012, the Weltethos Institute has been offering students and businesspeople learning programs that address precisely this issue. The basis for this is the Global Business Ethic Manifesto of the Global Ethic Foundation – made possible by long-term funding from the Karl Schlecht Foundation. At the heart of it is the question: Under what conditions can we survive together in cultural, ideological, and religious diversity on a habitable earth and shape our individual and social lives humanely? To enter into dialogue about this, the Weltethos Institute regularly holds events – in the conviction that Hans Küng’s Global Ethic project lives on in and with all of us.

Dr. Christopher Gohl has been researching and teaching at the Weltethos Institute at the University of Tübingen since 2012 on the emergence and impact of values, ethics in business and the economy, and learning democracy. Between 2005 and 2010, the trained mediator worked as project manager for the Regional Dialogue Forum Frankfurt Airport. He then worked in the field of political strategy in Berlin. In 2011, he completed his doctorate in political theory at the University of Potsdam on the professional organization of political participation processes, for which he received the Endowment Prize of the University of Cologne’s Democracy Foundation. In May 2021, he will join the Bundestag for the FDP.