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Santa Clara University

Ethics Center

The Year in Review

Ethics Center Annual Report 2012

If you are unable to view this report, please click here


In this holiday season, we at Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics celebrate all the people who are involved in the Center's work. We owe so much to you. Your attendance at our events, your participation in our community partnerships, your feedback, and your financial support guide us all year through. Here we highlight some of the events and activities that made 2012 a banner year.


Making a MOOC
The New York Times has declared the coming year to be "The Year of the MOOC," an acronym for Massive Open Online Courses. Using all the tools the web has to offer, MOOCs can involve thousands of students from all over the world in online learning.

Last month, the Ethics Center announced that it will partner with the new Instructure online platform, Canvas Networks, to offer our first MOOC, "Business Ethics for the Real World," taught by Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson. The course pilots in February, and registration is now open.

Internet Ethics slide_16x9_final

New Program in Internet Ethics
With our location in Silicon Valley, creating a focus area in Internet ethics seemed like an obvious thing to do—and with gifts from the Markkula Foundation and from donor Noel Perry, we kicked off our new program this year.

Program Manager Irina Raicu began by creating a module for college students on protecting their privacy online, which has already been beta tested with classes at Santa Clara and San Jose State universities. About half of the students reported that they had never discussed the issue before, either in high school or college, and the same number indicated they intended to take action to protect their privacy based on what they learned. The reaction was summed up by one student, who wrote, “I think the info in ‘Your Privacy Online’ is actually interesting and good to know."


Character Education for Everyone
In 1999, Center Director of Character Education Steve Johnson developed a curriculum called Character-Based Literacy, which integrates lessons about ethics into language arts classes. Piloted in alternative and court-community schools, CBL now serves juvenile offenders in the majority of California's 58 counties.

Since then CBL has expanded significantly, adding U.S. and American History and Science to its offerings. This year, the program is poised to go national. An initiative by the National Governors Association has created national common core  standards, which means that young people across the country will have a consistent framework for their education. CBL is being adapted to meet those national standards, which will allow it to be adopted nationwide in both public and Catholic schools.


The Role of Conscience in Ethics
What should people do when their conscience tells them to do something that goes against the teaching of their church or the law of their country? This year, that question has provided a theme for events, research, and collaborations, under the leadership of Campus Ethics Director David DeCosse.

San Francisco Bishop Robert McElroy kicked off the events with a discussion of the engagement of the Catholic conscience in American public life. Other speakers have included

  • Thomas Reese, S.J., of Georgetown's Woodstock Institute, on "Religion, Ethics, and the 2012 Election"
  • Cathleen Kaveny, professor of law at Notre Dame University, on "Voting, Religious Liberty, and the Common Good"
  • Carol Keehan, D.C., (pictured) CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, on "Catholic Health Care: Mandates and Morals in an Era of Change"

We expect the effort to culminate in the coming year with a conference, made possible by a gift from Phyllis and Mike Shea.


Exploring Corporate Governance
Through the Center's Advisory Board and Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership we have had the opportunity to consult with a number of experienced corporate directors and attorneys about the ethical issues that arise on corporate boards. Under the direction of Executive-in-Residence Jim Balassone, we also sponsor an annual presentation on corporate governance by a justice from the Delaware Court of Chancery or Delaware Supreme Court, the nation's preeminent courts of corporate law.

A series of video conversations illuminating issues in corporate governance is available on the Center's YouTube Channel, and includes, Richard Levy, chairman of the board at Varian Medical Systems; Robert Finocchio, former president, CEO, and chair of Informix and member of many boards; and Daniel Cooperman, of counsel at Bingham McCutchen and former vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Apple Inc. and Oracle Corp.(pictured)


Campaign Ethics: A Resource for Reporters
Why do candidates lie? What is the influence of money in political campaigns? How do unfair campaign tactics affect the public trust? When reporters try to tease out the ethical issues in elections, they often call Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Center.

Nadler, the former mayor of Santa Clara, brings her 25 years of experience in public service to an understanding of the day-to-day mechanics of getting elected. This campaign season, she spoke to publications from the New York Times to Nature, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Orange County Register, and even the Cebu Sun Star.


Medical Decision Making for Incapacitated Patients
According to a bioethicist at a major urban hospital, “The single greatest category of problems we encounter are those that address the care of decisionally incapable patients…who have no living relative or friend who can be involved in the decision-making process. These are the most vulnerable patients because no one cares deeply if they live or die.”

Spearheaded by Center Director of Bioethics Margaret R. McLean, the Center has had an ongoing interest in the problems of these incapacitated, unrepresented patients. In the past year, in her capacity as a member of the Santa Clara County Medical Association Bioethics Committee, McLean has begun the process of evaluating the impact of a model policy on end-of-life decision making for patients without surrogates, crafted 10 years ago and adopted by most of the county's 11 hospitals.


Sports Law and Ethics
The Ethics Center is a partner in the University's new Institute of Sports Law and Ethics. The institute's mission is to

  • Develop and offer high quality educational programming on important and timely issues of law, sports, and competition
  • Provide research materials and relevant scholarship on current issues in professional and amateur athletics

To that end, Center Director Kirk Hanson, working with student Hackworth Fellow Matthew Savage, produced a set of resources that map the ethical issues in professional, college, and youth athletics. Savage's fellowship, one of many supported by Joan and the late Michael Hackworth, included a blog on ethics in college sports.


The Big Q: Undergrads in Dialog
While all Santa Clara undergraduates take a course in ethics, they don't always have an opportunity to bring what they learn to bear on the choices they make in their everyday lives. The Big Q, an online dialog about ethics for college students, fills the gap, with discussions about topics from cheating on tests to cheating in relationships.

Now in its second year, The Big Q brings SCU students into conversation with undergrads from more than 100 schools around the world. The project has also inspired a variety of campus events including a poetry slam on love gone wrong and a student-created, interactive video about drinking called The Pre-Game. Seed money and consultation on this project came from John Bronson.


Click and Give
Helping to build a more ethical world is just a click away. Your gift enables us to continue our ongoing work in business ethics, bioethics, campus ethics, character education, government ethics, and Internet ethics. Join us as we seek to illuminate the ethical issues of our day and to inspire people to act more ethically on campus, across Silicon Valley, and around the globe. Learn more about ways to support the Center by clicking here. Together we can make a difference!