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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

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  •  Reflections on a Career in Environmental Law

    Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 9:38 AM

    Lucas Hall, Forbes Family Conference Center
    noon-1 pm

    Kenneth Manaster, SCU School of Law professor, reflects on his decades of work in environmental law, including thoughts on his far-sighted law review article from the 1970s called "The Dignity of Nature." Manaster, also the Presidential Professor for Ethics and the Common Good at SCU, retires at the end of this academic year.

  •  Poverty Simulation

    Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 3:12 PM

    November 17, 2015
    Locatelli Center

    In a time of growing inequality, how well do we empathize across the growing divide between rich and poor? This event, organized by staff of Catholic Charities and Step Up Silicon Valley, invites participants to consider more concretely the decisions and constraints of living in poverty. There will be discussion, exercises, work with campus visitors who have been living without a home, and more.

  •  New Book on Corporate Stewardship

    Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 12:02 PM

    Corporate Stewardship: Achieving Sustainable Effectiveness is now available on Amazon. This contemporary and highly readable resource from Greenleaf Press includes a chapter on the role of leaders in shaping the ‪ethical culture‬ of corporations by Ethics Center Executive Director Kirk Hanson, and features as one of its three co-editors James O'Toole, Ethics Center senior fellow in Business Ethics. Additional co-editors are Edward E. Lawler and Susan Albers Mohrman.

    The 360-page hardcover book (also availabe on Kindle) provides research-based and practical guidance on how companies can resolve ethical challenges. How can they be both profitable and responsible, effective and ethical, sustainable and adaptable, in today's corporate culture? It also explores what businesses can and should do to effectively respond to external challenges, and how leaders can create cultures, strategies, and designs far beyond business as usual.

    The book description reads: "Business as usual is an inadequate response to the problems emerging in the world around us. Effectively addressing today's increasingly complex and pressing global issues requires a fundamental change in the role corporations play in the world."

     One reviewer writes:

    "A comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities faced by business leaders in managing sustainable business firms. This volume features contributions by the leading scholars on the responsibility of business in society.”
    (Professor David Vogel, Haas School of Business)

    Order your copy.


  •  Shannon Vallor Ethics Finalist in World Tech Awards

    Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 10:25 AM

    Congratulations to Shannon Vallor, SCU associate professor of Philosophy and Ethics Center scholar, who was recently named a finalist in Ethics for the 2015 World Technology Awards, among a prestigious list of outstanding leaders in categories ranging from social entrepreneurship, to biotech, to communications and health and medicine, and many other areas of technology innovation. Vallor will take part in the 2015 World Technology Summit & Awards November 19th-20th in New York City, an historic educational and celebratory gathering of innovators in the science and technology world, organized by WTN (World Technology Network), a curated membership community comprised of the world's most innovative individuals and organizations in science and technology.

    The annual World Technology Awards are presented to outstanding innovators in technology conducting impactful work with the greatest likely long-term significance in the fields of science, technology, and related disciplines. Nominations are made through: The WTN Fellows (ie: previous nominees); The WTN internal Subject Matter Expert review board; and through self-nominations by individuals or their peers. Past WTN Fellows include: Beth Comstock, senior vice president & CMO of General Electric and oversaw founding of Hulu; Bill McKibben, environmentalist and global warming expert; and Elon Musk, entrepreneur, engineer, Inventor, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, and other distinguished individuals and organizations.



  •  The Future of Aging

    Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 10:00 AM

    Speaker: Kevin Perrott, Buck Institute advisory council member; co-founder, SENS Research Foundation; founder, Aging Research Network; chair, Scientific Advisory Council, Compassionate Access
    5 p.m., Reception, Vari Hall Foyer
    6–7 p.m., Event, Wiegand Room, Vari Hall, Arts and Sciences Building

    Over the past quarter century, science has made dramatic advances in understanding the underlying causes of the degeneration associated with aging, and researchers have discovered intriguing clues that the aging process may be amenable to intervention, allowing individuals to live much healthier a lot longer.  What is the evidence behind some of the hype that leads researchers to believe aging to be an approachable challenge, and what are some of the implications of such a shift in how people view aging itself? These questions will be examined by Perrott, entrepreneur and Ph.D. candidate of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

    Sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, in conjunction with the Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship


  •  How Can Someone Be a Troll?

    Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 10:00 AM

    Speaker: Antonio Casilli, associate professor of digital humanities, Telecom Paris Tech
    Date: Oct 29, 2015  7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Vari Hall, The Wiegand Center


    In his masterpiece Persian Letters, French philosopher Montesquieu asked a simple yet fundamental question: How can someone come to be recognized as a deviant to the society they inhabit? The very question can be asked about internet trolls…

    Nobody has the ultimate definition of “trolling”: we know it when we see it. But what we see depends on country, language, context. English-speaking media equate trolling with hate speech and harassment, but Middle-Eastern activists conflate it with government propaganda. European politicians construe it as a sign of “online incivility.” while marketing experts from around the world devise ways to leverage it for their viral campaigns.

    Tech companies can play an important ethical role in overcoming present-day ambivalent attitudes towards trolling. But they are caught in a crossfire of conflicting principles, between calls for free speech, the respect of human dignity, and the need to monetize online contents.

    Based on international case studies and on a growing body of literature in troll studies, this lecture will analyze the social implications of Internet trolling, to understand how it interconnects discourses around social inequality, race, gender—and access to online participation.


  •  Two New Books on Religion and Ethics

    Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 2:28 PM

    Ethics Center Director of Campus Ethics David DeCosse has spearheaded the publication of two books on religious themes. Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism in the United States: The Challenge of Becoming a Church for the Poor was published by Lane Center Publications, University of San Francisco, and includes essays on current issues in Catholicism.

    Pope Francis has often said that there is nothing he wants so much as a church for the poor. But what can that mean in a context like the United States, the wealthiest country in the world? And what can Pope Francis' wish mean in a context like that of the Catholic Church in the United States -- a Church led for the last years by bishops who battled issues of sexual ethics more than they fought against poverty? This book, by a gathering of Catholic theologians, writers, and activists, offers answers to these questions. The book was inspired by a noted essay by San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy, in which he challenged the Catholic Church in the United States to heed Francis' call.
    Conscience and Catholicism: Rights, Responsibilities, and Institutional Responses was co-edited by DeCosse and Kristin Heyer, immediate past professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University and currently professor of Theology at Boston College. Published by Orbis Books, this dynamic collection of essays explores conscience in the Catholic Church.

    Leading ethicists and theologians address Conscience, a term loaded with meaning and controversy in the Catholic Church in recent decades around issues like political participation, human sexuality, war and institutional violence, and theological dissent. Many essays focus on the tension between the primacy of conscience (codified at Vatican II) and the processes and cultures of Catholic institutions, including schools, hospitals, and medical research facilities.

  •  Pizza, Passion, and the Minimum Wage

    Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 10:00 AM

    Event Date: Wednesday October 14, 2015
    Time: noon
    Speaker: Chuck Hammers, president, Pizza My Heart Inc.

    How do you communicate values while growing a business? Does the company’s culture make a difference? Chuck Hammers has led Pizza My Heart for nearly 30 years and served 20 years with the San Jose Downtown Association. Learn how this business owner and advocate’s perspective on a minimum wage has evolved over time, as he makes a case that what is good for employees can be good for business.

    Pizza will be provided!

  •  Ethics Center Press Coverage During Papal Visit

    Monday, Sep. 28, 2015 12:43 PM

    Pope Francis just completed his historical visit to the United States, speaking before Congress, holding masses in Washington D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia, and warming the hearts of millions along the way. The Ethics Center staff was honored to be featured in several news stories and blogs, as follows:

    David DeCosse, director of Campus Ethics and an author and editor of the new book, "Conscience and Catholicism: Rights, Responses, and Institutional Responsibilities" (Orbis -September 30 2015), published two blog posts for PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. "Questioning Sainthood for Serra" explores the implications of canonization for Serra, and also focuses on issues of place and time. Why did the canonization not take place in California, for example? And how do we best view Serra, in the context of the times he lived in (historial perspective), or from the benefit of looking back from today's perspective -- or both?

    DeCosse also published "Pope Francis’ Speech to Congress: Millennials React,"in which he shared impressions of the speech by his Santa Clara University students from his Christianity and Politics class. One student observed: "Pope seemed to “reach beyond the personal boundaries of religion and politics” toward the possibility of genuine community.

    Brian Green, assistant director of Campus Ethics, published as a special to the Mercury News, "Pope Francis Knows History and Fears Its Repeat," a compelliing post that warns about our past mistakes being a harbinger for the future. On the Pope's speech to Congress, Green writes: "This deep view of history and perceptive awareness of our current context -- as well as his ability and inclination to speak out freely -- makes Pope Francis unique among world leaders. Unlike some leaders, who tend only to think of the next election cycle, the Pope answers only to history and to God. He feels that therefore he must speak out. He refuses to pretend that all is well in the world, when very clearly it is not. And that awareness means that there is work to be done setting things right."

    Thomas Reese, S.J., Ethics Center Visiting Scholar and Senior Analyst of The National Catholic Reporter was a featured guest on PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. In "The Impact of Pope's U.S. Visit,"  readers can view a transcript of Reese interviewed by Managing Editor Kim Lawton. On the Pope and celebirty, Reese comments: "He’s not an ordinary celebrity. Celebrities are all about selling themselves. They are all about 'me.' And this pope is about selling Jesus, about selling the Gospel. And when he’s with other people, it’s not about him, it’s about them, and you can just see that in the way he reaches out to people, the way he interacts with them. And it’s this authenticity. He’s the real deal, you know, and he not only preaches, he walks the talk."

    What are your thoughts on the Pope's visit? Share in the Comments.


  •  Steve Johnson Receives Special Recognition Award

    Tuesday, Sep. 22, 2015 4:40 PM

    Congratulations to Steve Johnson, who recently received the President's Special Recognition Award at Santa Clara University. During the past three years, Johnson, senior lecturer in Education Leadership, has been the leading force in the School of ECP's Innovations in Catholic Education (ICE), a set of projects designed and implemented to improve Catholic Education, initially in the Diocese of San Jose with the plans to scale to a number of other dioceses throughout California and the Southwest in the next five years.

    As Director of Character Education and Catholic Education Advisor for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Johnson developed the Character-Based Literacy Curriculum, now in use in the court-community schools of many California counties and hundreds of regular and alternative classrooms throughout the United States. Johnson trains teachers, counselors, and administrators in the curriculum, which integrates ethics into the language arts curriculum.

    Among the ICE initiatives Steve has spearheaded is the Academy of Blended Learning, which provides instruction and support to teachers in the Drexel School System of the Diocese of San Jose. This project enables these teachers to use the latest in instructional technology to engage each student in appropriate learning activities. The success of the Blended Learning Academy got the attention of the National Catholic Educational Association. Thanks to the organizing efforts of Johnson and the School of ECP, SCU was the host site for the National Catholic Educational Association's (NCEA) Blended Learning Symposium this past June 2015.  Johnson also administers the Principal Effectiveness Program which engages the principals in the Drexel Schools in leadership development and the Principreneur Program involved principals from Catholic Schools in several dioceses. These principal-entrepreneurs practiced the business skills typical of Silicon Valley leaders. Finally, the Academy of Church Leadership provides pastors and others in church leadership with tools for management and administration as well as leadership. These recent accomplishments extend a long trajectory of SCU mission-centered service to others and the community, particularly in the diverse field of regular and alternative K-12 education.