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Online course shares Northwood Idea to all

April 1, 2022

Dr. Dale Matcheck chairs the Economics Department at Northwood University.

American institutions were designed to secure for all citizens their natural rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This gave rise to the world’s most dynamic economy and a well-deserved reputation as the “land of opportunity.

At about the time Northwood was founded, President Dwight D. Eisenhower observed, “only our individual faith in freedom can keep us free.” Our founders couldn’t agree more, and from the start, they included in every curriculum a course to help students understand and appreciate the importance of freedom for promoting human progress and prosperity.

Today, it seems the need for this kind of education is greater than ever. A recent Gallup poll indicated that among young people, favorable opinions about capitalism had fallen from 66% 10 years ago to only 50% today. For that reason, we seek to expand access to this course beyond the classrooms of Northwood University and to a much broader audience.

This spring, we launched an online course that brings this class to life for anyone interested in learning about the tenets of the Northwood Idea, which values personal responsibility, freedom, innovation, rule of law and limited government.

This online course is our effort to share the lessons of that course beyond the classroom walls. We will use this online version as a refresher course for alumni, professional development for employees, and an outreach program for others interested in learning these ideas.

Donald S. Gottwald, a 1988 alumnus, and his wife, Pamela, are the principal donors behind this effort to highlight The Northwood Idea, which is the University’s guiding philosophy that provides a foundation for students to utilize their unique individual talents in a free society to pursue a life well spent.

The Northwood Idea exists as a timeless set of values that adapts to changing conditions while remaining steadfast as a guiding light. It provides direction to those who understand the full meaning of freedom.

Orval Watts said the most distinctive feature of the Northwood Idea is the expectation that our students will look on their career in business not just as a means of obtaining wealth or leisure, “but as a way of using their highest human capacities and obtaining lasting satisfaction in a life well spent.“

Northwood believes that strong personal character is a vital prerequisite for effective leadership. On a personal level, this will emphasize the virtues of hard work and thrift, Individual responsibility and freedom, and adherence to moral law.

We encourage limited government, as America is a place that has allowed Dreamers — people who came here looking to create a better life for themselves and their children — to succeed. That is because our system of limited government was specifically designed to secure individual rights and leave people free to pursue their own path in life.

On March 23 — Founder’s Day — we launched the first of five modules in this course. This course teaches the importance of business and encourages people to think about their career as a calling, not just a job. It’s a call to service, not selfishness.

The second aspect of this part of the course is to influence public perceptions of business. As in so many other aspects of our society, it is often businesses that misbehave that make the news. This can skew public perception of the actual impact of business on our society.

In reality, business is the way we organize voluntary cooperation in society and make it more productive, and that benefits all of us. These include not just the private products and services we have access to but also the wealth that supports other institutions like schools, charities and government services.

This part of the course also pays particular attention to the entrepreneur and the particular skills required for that demanding role. Entrepreneurs need to be alert to the needs of others, and to come up with creative ways to meet those needs at prices that people can afford. They need to be willing to assume risk and build an effective team to get it done. They are the drivers of economic progress.

The effort to bring online courses about The Northwood Idea to the public also is being aided by a generous gift from the Thomas F. and Harriet S. Oakley Family Trust. As a result of the generous donations from multiple individuals, Northwood University will release additional courses in the months and years to come.

Donors who value liberty, the American free-enterprise system, and creating leaders who drive economic and social progress considering their own gift to Northwood University may visit www.northwood.edu/give or contact Northwood’s advancement office at (989) 837-4356.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to strengthen our individual faith in freedom, which as Eisenhower famously said, is what keeps us free.

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