Ethics Across the Curriculum
A hallmark of Saint Louis University is the faculty's tradition of excellence in their scholarly, pedagogical and service emphasis on ethics throughout undergraduate, graduate and professional school curricula. Under the leadership of internationally-recognized ethicist Fr. John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., the University's Ethics Across the Curriculum program has inspired, enhanced and sustained ethics-based teaching, research and service.
The VOICES Project has enthusiastically embraced the call to continue this tradition of excellence, and will directly support and fund the Ethics Across the Curriculum effort through a series of coordinated initiatives throughout 2009. Tobias Winright, Assistant Professor of Moral Theology, will direct a coordinated series of programs focused on:
Identifying efforts across the University that focus on ethics;
Facilitating exchange of information and resources among academic units;
Sponsoring lectures and workshops to stimulate conversations about ethics and advance ethics-focused pedagogies;
Providing developmental opportunities for the faculty to become more informed about descriptive and normative ethics;
Offering a supportive environment in which faculty can explore the ethical issues relative to the classes, laboratories and other settings in which they teach and develop.
Summarized below are the primary Ethics Across the Curriculum initiatives for 2009. Each of these opportunities aim to facilitate the professional development of non-ethics faculty who would like to incorporate more ethics and ethical deliberation into their own classrooms and programs but are unsure how to go about doing so. Check out upcoming ethics-based lectures and announcements at the bottom of this webpage.
Summer Faculty Workshop
This is a professional development opportunity for non-ethics faculty in academic departments across the University who would like to incorporate more ethics into their own classrooms but are unsure how to go about doing so. In his Vision Statement, President Biondi writes, "My vision is to establish and maintain Saint Louis University as the finest Catholic university in the United States, wherein the entire University community is actively engaged in student formation. Challenged by outstanding faculty and a modern, value-centered curriculum reflecting the Jesuit tradition, students are fully prepared to contribute to society and to be effective leaders of social change based on the ethical values and principles taught in the Saint Louis University tradition." Although the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Theological Studies, and other academic units offer ethics courses for students, delegating the task of ethics education and formation to one set of disciplines and teachers is insufficient for implementing this Vision.
Thus, this 5-day interactive workshop seeks to equip non-ethics faculty to incorporate ethical reflection more knowledgeably and deliberately into a course (or courses) in their home discipline. With presentations and hands-on conversations with ethicists, staff from the Center for Teaching Excellence, and reference librarians, the workshop will provide a basic familiarity with the fundamentals of ethics (theories, principles, methods, etc.) and a "toolbox" of concrete, practical ideas and resources (e.g., case studies, discussion starters, etc.) to apply within the classroom.
Information for the 2010 workshop will be posted in January 2010.
Faculty Fellows in Ethics
Six faculty from various disciplines throughout the University will be appointed as VOICES Faculty Fellows in Ethics. These Fellows will receive a $2500 stipend ($1250 disbursed on August 31 and $1250 on December 31) either to: a) revise a current departmental course or develop a new course incorporating ethics as an integrated element of study; and/or b) conduct research and write an essay for possible presentation and/or publication about an ethics-related issue or topic, which may also have pedagogical outcomes, in their home discipline.
Ethics Across the Curriculum, along with support from the VOICES Project, would like to announce the faculty chosen for the 2009 VOICES Faculty Ethics Fellows program. The fellows represent a range of disciplines across the curriculum and University, and each project has the potential to make a discernible impact here at Saint Louis University, as well as in the wider community. Fellowship recipients/projects are as follows:
1. Renzo Llorente, Ph.D., Department of Humanities, SLU Madrid - "Ethics Journals for Phil 205 Ethics Courses"
2. Jintong Tang, Ph.D., Department of Management - "Do Ethically Suspect Behaviors Prevent or Promote Firm Growth?"
3. Andrew Steele, M.D., FACOG, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health - "Training OB/GYN Residents Within a Catholic Healthcare Context"
4. Mary (Rina) Chittooran, Ph.D., Department of Educational Studies, "The Ethics of Research With Children in Schools"
5. Erin Chambers, Ph.D., and David Letscher, Ph.D., Department of Computer Science, and William Rehg, S.J., Ph.D., Department of Philosophy - "Computer Ethics"
6. Mark Ruff, Ph.D., Department of History - "Genocide in the 20th Century and Its Aftermath"
Faculty/Staff Ethics Discussion Groups
In the Spring 2009 and Fall 2009 semesters, the Ethics Across the Curriculum program will sponsor two faculty and staff Ethics Book Discussion Groups. For each, faculty and staff from throughout the University will read a short common text or collection of essays, and then gather twice in small groups of 15-20 to reflect upon and analyze how the issues raised in their readings are or should be addressed in their personal lives, professional careers, and the education of SLU's students.
During the Fall 2009 semester, the Ethics Across the Curriculum program will sponsor another Book Discussion Group. Faculty and staff from throughout the University are invited to read and discuss over lunch Anthony Weston's Creative Problem-Solving in Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2007; 79 pages). We will gather twice in small groups of 7-10 to reflect upon and discuss the ways in which Weston offers new and productive ways for engaging complex and controversial moral questions and issues in our classrooms--regardless of academic discipline--and our personal and professional lives.
Dates: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 from noon until 1:00; Tuesday, November 10, 2009 from noon until 1:00. We will meet both dates in DuBourg Hall, Room #157, the Refectory.
A "how-to" book about creativity in ethics, Creative Problem-Solving in Ethics covers such practical methods as diversifying options, lateral thinking, reframing problems, approaching conflicts as creative opportunities, and many others. It shows how to find "room to move" inside even the most challenging ethical problems, and thereby discover creative ways to deal with them. The book features numerous exercises and applications that consider a wide range of familiar ethical issues--including the moral status of animals, the death penalty, poverty, drug use, and many others--and ends with some of the toughest: abortion, assisted suicide, and environmental ethics.
General readers will find this book useful as an engaging, brief introduction to creative thinking in ethics. An ideal supplement for any general ethics course, it can also be used in more specific "applied" courses like bioethics, business ethics, and social ethics, as well as in critical thinking courses that emphasize ethics. From the very beginning of the book, readers will discover that creative thinking can offer imaginative and promising alternatives to seemingly intractable ethical dilemmas.
Lunch will be provided to participants at both sessions. To sign up to participate in the book discussion group, email Dr. Tobias Winright at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to serve in addition as a group discussion leader, let Dr. Winright know in your email message. Group discussion leaders will receive a small honorarium for their efforts. A free copy of the book will be provided in advance to all participants and group discussion leaders.
Following is some feedback from the Spring, 2009 discussion groups:
"Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the book discussions. Having conversations about ethics reminded me about how important it is to have meaningful conversations with colleagues about very challenging and yet very meaningful topics. Thank you for organizing it."
"Discussions with colleagues was most helpful and interesting."
"I hoped that I would hear other people's views, based on their fields. And I feel that I got that."
"Thank you! This is a great way to engage other faculty, have thought-provoking conversations and think about our decision-making at home and in the classroom. What Academia is (should be?) all about!"
"Reading the book and the discussions that followed made me view ethical dilemmas in a whole new light."
University-wide Communication and Collaboration
The University is fortunate to be home to several well-respected and prominent ethics centers, including:
The Ethics Across the Curriculum Program endeavors to be a conduit for communication and collaboration among the University's various ethics centers, serving as an interdisciplinary educational hub. For more information about these ethics centers and their upcoming activities, click on their links above.
- Recent Resources on Ethics Across the Curriculum available as an e-journal through SLU's Pius Library: The Summer 2008 issue of New Directions for Higher Education, edited by Stephanie L. Moore, is devoted to "Practical Approaches to Ethics for Colleges and Universities." It contains several helpful essays, including: "Ethics Across the Curriculum" by Nancy J. Matchett, which explains why universities cannot avoid teaching ethics across their curricula; "Thinking Through the Issues in a Code of Ethics" by Michael Davis; "Teaching Ethics in a Business Program" by John H. Grant; "Classroom Strategies for Teaching Ethics" by Sharon Smaldino; "The Institution's Obligations to Athletes" by Linda A. Sharp and Holly K. Sheilley; and more. To access this informative issue, see http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120848485/issue.