What kind of housing will suit the needs of people who live in an almost treeless area of Ghana where The annual income per capita is less than $100?
For the past four years, students at Santa Clara University have developed the "Catenary Arch" design, building an office, library, and house in Gambibgo, Ghana. This arch structure is comprised of blocks made of local soil arranged in an arch and covered in a plaster. The structure has no need for zinc or timber, is highly durable, and requires little maintenance.
With a Hackworth Research Grant from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, SCU seniors Nathan Rogers and Matt Jensen undertook an evaluation of the project to insure that its goals are ethical and that it is carried out in an ethical fashion. Their report explores the virtues of a good engineer and the issues of informed consent when working with a largely illiterate population.
Software engineer "Wayne Davidson" is responsible for testing a prototype of an air traffic control system in a new case study by Michael McFarland, SJ, computer scientist and former president of College of the Holy Cross. When Wayne finds a problem, his boss dissuades him from reporting on it so that the company can meet its very tight deadline with the Federal Aviation Agency. McFarland takes readers on a step-by-step process for thinking through the ethical issues behind Wayne's dilemma.
Getting college students to engage with the problem of cheating will be the focus of the Ethics Center's Big Q project for the next month. A series of case studies illustrating common dilemmas that undergraduates encounter invite students to consider questions such as whether to tell on a classmate who is cheating and what effect cheating has on the character of the people involved. Three $200 Amazon gift certificates will be awarded to the best undergraduate responses to the cases. The Big Q's Facebook page will also offer polls on cheating as well as opportunities for further discussion.
At SCU, these materials will be integrated into sessions on academic integrity that are offered to every incoming freshman during orientation. Students at other colleges and universities can also use the resources and are eligible for the contest.
To be effective and have a positive impact in their communities, engineers need to have a basic grasp of ethical decision making, says Michael McFarland, S.J., in this video conversation with Irina Raicu, Internet Ethics Program director at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
McFarland, a computer scientist and Jesuit priest, describes how he became interested in science and ethics and how he integrates the two disciplines. McFarland began his career at AT&T Bell Labs, where he conducted research in computer-aided design of digital systems. He taught computer science at Gonzaga University and Boston College and served for 12 years as the president of College of the Holy Cross.
Graduating SCU senior Melissa Marie Martin was awarded the University's Markkula Prize at a ceremony last week at the Ethics Center.
The prize, established by the Ethics Center Advisory Board in honor of the Center's first board chair, A.C. "Mike" Markkula, honors a student who has done outstanding work in applied ethics.
Martin worked closely with the Center's Character Education Program, assisting at Ethics Camp, the Principal's Institute, and other events. She rebuilt the Character Educatn Web site, reviewing and formatting all lesson plans.
At the ceremony, Center Executive Director Kirk Hanson said, "Melissa will be especially remembered for exhibiting the SCU qualities of caring, compassion, and conscience."
Michele Borba, author, speaker, and educator on parenting, character education, and bullying prevention, addressed The Ethics Center's Catholic School Principals Institute yesterday on how to move children from cruelty to compassion.
Borba began by defining bullying as intentional cruelty, where a child picks on someone who is more vulnerable, usually repeatedly. She cited a 2007 study of middle and high school students, which found that one third had been bullied on campus. As reported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,
Among high school students, 1 out of 9—about 2.8 million teens—reported that they had been pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on during the last school year, while another 1.5 million reported being threatened with physical harm. In the same survey, 900,000 high schoolers reported being cyberbullied—a newer twist on this age-old problem.
Borba went on to describe what she called "heart hardeners," seven factors that diminish a child's empathy, which may lead to bullying:
Experiencing trauma, depression, or stress
Lack of face-to-face interaction. Children who spend more time looking at screens than interacting with others don't learn to read social situations.
Raised in a "me vs. we" environment: Increasing competition and a sense of entitlement produces children who have trouble sharing and empathizing.
Coached in cruelty: Exposure to violent TV and video games encourages some children—15% according to Borba—to be violent themselves.
No nurture: "Kids are hard-wired for empathy, but unless you nurture it, it lies dormant," Borba said. Empathy and kindness must be emphasized.
Poor Examples: Are teachers, coaches, and other adults in children's lives modeling how to be a caring person or are they themselves bullies?
Normalizing bullying: When bullying is accepted in the culture, it becomes pervasive.
To combat these trends, Borba talked with the principals about strategies for combating bullying. Drawing on the work of psychologist Dan Olweus, she outlined essential elements of a successful program:
Caring, positive involvement from adults, such as monitoring of behavior by teachers
Firm limits on unacceptable behavior
Consistent, fair discipline
Help for children to improve their behavior
She shared examples of best practices from schools across the country. One program she described asked children to identify the places at school where they did not feel safe. Many respondents cited the school bus stop. In response, the school deployed a group of student "greeters," who met the bus every morning and welcomed their classmates.
One school developed a book club for teachers, giving the staff a common language for discussing character education. Another created Kindness Challenge Days, which asked students to do one kind deed each day for a month and track their progress. Class meetings were another popular approach, allowing children to work together and practice how to disagree respectfully.
More information on Borba's work, including a free download of her "6 R's of Bullying Prevention, is available here.
The Catholic School Principals Institute, a program of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics in collaboration with the Diocese of San Jose, brings educators together to focus on the issues that challenge Catholic school leaders.
A new fellowship in business ethics has been set up at the Ethics Center, honoring Silicon Valley entrepreneur Michael Hackworth, who served as Center Advisory Board chair until his death in April.
Four Santa Clara University seniors will hold the fellowships in 2012-2013:
• Alexis Babb, economics and finance, from Morgan Hill, Calif.
• Amanda Nelson, economics, from Bellevue, Wash.
• Saayeli Mukherti, finance, from Sunnyvale, Calif.
• Noah Rickling, finance and philosophy, from San Diego
The Business Ethics Fellows will be interviewing SCU Business School alumni about ethical issues they have confronted in the workplace and using these stories as the basis for a set of case studies.
The Center has also named three Hackworth Fellows for 2012-2013. The Hackworth Fellowships were endowed by Mike and his wife Joan Hackworth to support SCU students in creating ethics programming for their peers. Next year's fellows are:
Patrick Coutermarsh, a double major in economics and philosophy, from the city of Santa Clara. Coutermarsh will be forming an "Ethics Bowl" team of students to compete against other universities in debate-like events focused on ethics cases.
Aven Satre-Meloy, a double major in political science and environmental studies, from Helena, Mont. Satre-Meloy will be putting on programming related to the development and adoption of an Honor Code at SCU.
Mary Zieber, a theater major with a dance emphasis, from San Jose. Zieber will be doing programming involving dance and other arts in their relation to ethics.
With the London Olympics fast approaching, Matt Savage, whose blog Savage on Sports deals with ethical issues in athletics, comments on athletes who have used their position to speak out on social issues.
Savage, an SCU senior who is just finishing a stint as a Hackworth Fellow at the Ethics Center, reflects on Tommie Smith and John Carlos, US medalists famous now for raising their fists on the podium while the National Anthem rang in the background. Smith and Carlos were protesting the treatment of African Americans.
He also discusses Cathy Freeman, an Australian Aboriginal native, who carried both the Australian and Aboriginal flags for her victory lap after winning the gold medal in the 400 meter.
Savage asks whether it is the duty of athletes to use their prominence as a platform to raise important social issues.
Ten years after the scandal of child sexual abuse by priests rocked the U.S. Catholic Church to its core, has enough been done to protect children, prevent recurrence, and strengthen institutional accountability and transparency?
The mixed-bag answer to that question was the subject of the conferece "Clergy Sexual Abuse Ten Years Later," held May 11, 2012, at Santa Clara University. The Ethics Center was a sponsor of the event.
Supporters of reform take heart that most U.S. dioceses have a “zero tolerance” policy for priests facing credible allegations – even if they are un-adjudicated. They note that allegations have dropped drastically from the peak of the epidemic after the 1970s, and new allegations now number fewer than a dozen a year nationwide. But critics and reformers alike continue to find problems with the lack of oversight or consequence for rogue bishops who refuse to comply with best practices established by the so-called Dallas Charter. And the legacy of clericalism and spotty accountability has been hard to erase.
The panelists included Karen Terry, Ph.D., the principal investigator for two nationally acclaimed John Jay College of Criminal Justice studies on the nature, scope, and causes of the abuse scandals; Barbara Blaine, who in 1988 founded the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP); Kathleen McChesney, Ph.D., former FBI executive who was the first executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Bishops; and SCU Professor Thomas Plante, a consultant on priest sexual abuse who also helps screen seminarians for sexual-abuse proclivities as vice chair of the National Review Board for the U.S. Bishops’ Protection of Children and Youth office.
Christina Fialho, formerly a Hackworth student fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, has just won an Echoing Green Fellowship to support CIVIC, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement. She and fellow activist Christina Mansfield, also named an Echoing Green Fellow, hope to "end the isolation of migrants in civil detention by building and strengthening community visitation programs across the United States." Prior to starting CIVIC, Fialho co-founded the first immigration detention visitation program in California.
Since 1987, Echoing reen has funded more than 500 fellowships for promising social entrepreneurs. Here is their description of Fialho and Mansfield's project:
At this very moment, more than 32,000 men, women, and children are detained by the U.S. government in jails and prisons for not having proper documentation. While lacking papers is not a crime, immigrants are often imprisoned for months--sometimes years--with little connection to the outside world. While over 80 percent of detained immigrants are unrepresented by legal counsel, many also are denied access to family and community support. CIVIC ends the isolation and abuse of persons in immigration detention by building and strengthening community visitation programs across the United States.
The Center's Hackworth Fellowships support SCU students to provide ethics programming for their peers.