|February 14, 2010|
Ethics program showcased in academic journal
Union’s “Ethics Across the Curriculum” program is featured prominently in the latest issue of Teaching Ethics, the academic journal of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum.
Under the title, “Everyday Ethics at Union College,” the journal includes contributions from Michael S. Rapaport ’59, the program’s benefactor; Robert Baker, the William D. Williams Professor of Philosophy and director of the Rapaport Everyday Ethics Across the Curriculum Initiative; and several faculty.
Since 2006, Union’s approach has been to make ethics a staple of classroom discussion across the board in more than 50 courses, from physics to photography. The program is administered by Baker and Amy Bloom, associate director. It is modeled after a pilot project that introduced ethics into the economics curriculum.
The ethics initiative also supports faculty who develop ethics segments in their courses by giving grants for materials, research, travel and guest speakers. The program funds periodic luncheons at which professors discuss ways to incorporate ethics in the classroom.
The focus on ethics at Union comes at a time when recent national studies have suggested schools have not done a good job of promoting the moral and ethical development of students.
And in a recent survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities asking employers which skills colleges should emphasize, three-quarters said they want graduates who are able to connect choice and actions to ethical decisions.
The seed for a broad-based ethics module in Union’s curriculum was planted by Rapaport, a real estate lawyer in White Plains, N.Y. Rapaport became distressed at the lack of ethical awareness of those caught up in the Enron scandal and decided to fund the College’s new program.
The College’s commitment to ethics is garnering recognition: in November, the school will host the national conference of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum. And a team of Union students recently won the Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl and will compete in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championship in Cincinnati in March.
The College also revised its mission statement to reflect the need to develop “ethical contributors to an increasingly diverse, global and technologically complex society.”