Business education needs to be radically rethought if trade is to be conducted ethically, Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, said in Edinburgh this week.
Ms Roddick told economics and business teachers that social justice, human rights, community economics and ethics had to be incorporated into the traditional business studies curriculum.
"I am trying to change the language of business," she claimed. "If there is no moral sympathy, then God help us all." Business education should break the taboo about using economic indicators other than growth and profit and challenge current thinking on free trade.
Business schools, Ms Roddick said, were producing "financial barbarians". There had to be teaching about the viability of small-scale businesses.
Children had to be encouraged to travel and experience the world, what she described as the university without walls, adding that the Body Shop pays more attention to personal experience than academic qualifications.
Mr Roddick, a former teacher, said: "You cannot teach entrepreneurship. I am essentially a delinquent that cannot fit in." Her teaching experience in the sixties had inculcated a sense that children's creativity can be unlocked by allowing them to challenge perceived wisdom.
Business studies teachers spoke of the difficulty of a curriculum shaped for the demands of specific employers. Janet Campbell, a lecturer at Glenrothes College, said: "It is good to hear someone challenge ideas. There is often no room for creative thinking."