Santa Clara University


The Year in Review

Our report to you on 2011 at the Ethics Center

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For 25 years, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics has been encouraging Silicon Valley and the Santa Clara University community to consider the ethical dilemmas we face in professional and personal life, and to act with integrity in addressing them.  Each year, that effort takes different forms, as the issues we confront change and the vehicles we use to address those issues evolve.  Who could have imagined in 1986 that we would be debating synthetic biology, Internet privacy, and how to do ethical business in the roaring Chinese economy?  Who could have imagined that we would be sending out this report using the Web, something no one had yet dreamed of?

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While we continue to offer our bedrock programs in bioethics, business ethics, campus ethics, character education, and government ethics, in this report, we highlight some of our newest—and we think most exciting—efforts.  We hope you are intrigued and decide to participate in our programs and, frankly, to support us.

<i>"10 Milligrams: Adderall Use on Campus" was the winning entry in The Big Q Video Contest for films on ethical issues in student life. <a href="">Click here to view>></a></i>

Social Media Initiative -The Big Q: A social media campaign to involve undergraduates in conversation about their big ethical questions, The Big Q uses Facebook, Twitter, and blogging to raise issues from use of the enhancement drug Adderall to cyberbullying.  We've collaborated with SCU faculty and residential staff to offer a place for their students to discuss sexuality or debate sustainability.  The project has been adopted at other universities for use in student life contexts or classes.  The Big Q also serves as a pilot for a projected set of online communities that will address ethical issues in the professions and in everyday life. 


Public Sector Roundtables - Budgeting in Tough Economic Times: "Budgeting is about values," John Ellwood, professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley told the Center's Public Sector Roundtable at a session focused on making hard choices between worthwhile government programs.  The quarterly roundtables bring together mayors, councilmembers, city managers and city attorneys, and other local officials to tackle the ethical issues they face. Ellwood and San Jose City Councilmember Sam Liccardo both gave presentations to assist members in thinking through the values that guide their budget decisions.


Videos on Creating an Ethical Business Culture:  The Center's Business Ethics Program has produced a series of videos addressing the part various functions and departments play in setting the ethical tone of an organization.  Drawing on guests of the Center's Business and Organizational Ethics Program and its Advisory Board, the videos look at the role of the board of directors, the CFO, the general counsel and others in creating the organization's ethical culture.

<i>Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson talks with Myron Steele, chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, about corporate governance.<a href="">Click here to view>></a></i>
Curriculum on Character and Leadership: The Center's popular Character-Based Literacy (CBL) Curriculum expanded this year in a pilot program with the Bering Straits School District in Alaska, the nation's largest (geographically!) and one of the most sparsely populated.  CBL Leadership combines the social studies and language arts curriculums, providing students historical context for the fiction they read.  The program uses literature and history to engage students in developing habits of character by providing role models of courage, integrity, responsibility, and justice.

Conference on the Demands of Conscience: Can a physician refuse to perform a fertility treatment for a lesbian woman because it violates his conscience?  Should a nurse be allowed to refuse to participate in a neonatal circumcision? Does a pharmacist have the right to refuse to fill a prescription for birth control? (Read the case) Those three cases kicked off a conference on conscientious refusals in health care, held at the Center in November.  Co-sponsored with the SCU Department of Philosophy, the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the University of Western Ontario, the conference explored the issue from the point of view of different stakeholders.

<i>Speaker Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away, talks about ethics in combat with Center Campus Ethics Director David DeCosse.<a href="">Click here to view>></a></i>

Journalism Roundtable on the Ethics of Digital News:  This month, 25 leading online editors and reporters from across the United States convened at the Center to identify the most difficult ethical choices facing online news gathering and reporting, and to discuss possible norms of behavior for the rapidly growing profession.   The roundtable was co-sponsored by the Ethics Center, the Washington-based Online News Association, and Santa Clara’s Communication Department.  The discussion included how the ethical lessons might be communicated to current and future online journalists.


We invite you to take part in the Ethics Center: Attend an event; use our ethical decision-making resources; get your company involved in the Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership or your school district using our CBL curriculum or your local government included in the Public Sector Roundtable.

If you like what you see, please consider making a gift to the Center.  We depend for support on contributions from individuals like you.