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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.

  •  Religious Liberty and the Culture Wars

    Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2015 4:33 PM

    Event Date: April 29, 2015
    12 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
    Lucas Hall, Forbes Family Conference Center
    Guest speaker Douglas Laycock, Robert E. Scott distinguished professor of law and professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, is one of the nation's leading constitutional experts on religious freedom. He has supported the Hobby Lobby decision of the United States Supreme Court, opposed the efforts of religious nonprofits to be exempt from the contraceptive requirements of federal health law, and extensively considered gay marriage in terms of religious freedom. He argues that we "can and should protect the liberty of both sides in the culture wars." He has also expressed that conservative churches would do well to concede the liberty of the other side (including on same-sex marriage), and concentrate on defending their own liberty as conscientious objectors; and similarly, that supporters of rights to abortion, contraception, gay rights, and same-sex marriage, would do well to concentrate on securing their own rights and to concede that conscientious objectors should rarely be required to support or facilitate practices they view as evil.
    Join us for this fascinating and timely presentation.

    Follow on Twitter: @scuethics #culturewars

  •  Donor Profile: Waldemar "Wally" Wenner

    Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2015 4:08 PM

    Waldemar "Wally" Wenner brings compassion and ethics to his work as a pediatric hospitalist at O'Connor Hospital and at the Pediatric Center for Life. Wenner originally became interested in the Ethics Center back in 1994, when he heard about the Center’s Health Care Ethics Internship program.  The internship is a year-long program which places students in local hospitals and other health care facilities, where they shadow and learn from nurses, physicians, chaplains, social workers, and many other health care professionals. This provides the opportunity to witness, first hand, the ethical issues that arise in the health care setting on a daily basis. The students deepen their understanding of these ethical issues by attending lectures and participating in group reflection sessions.  

    This past year, Wenner became an integral part of this internship program when he agreed to host health care ethics interns during his pediatric rounds.  Anna Kozas, who manages the clinical rotations, says, "When our interns shadow Dr. Wenner, they get an up-close look at some of the ethical issues that come up as he examines his young patients and counsels their parents. We encourage them to find a moment when he is between patients to ask questions and delve into the issues they observed that day. The results have been incredible. Dr. Wenner is so incredibly patient and informative - a natural mentor!"

    Wenner credits his undergraduate degree in philosophy at St. John's University in Minnesota with equipping him to see his work through an "ethics lens." This perspective remained with him as he earned his medical degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School, as he worked in his residency at UC San Francisco, and during the time he taught at UC Los Angeles and the University of Washington.

    "I've been blessed to have some great experiences, and to receive some thoughtful guidance along the way," Wenner adds. "My own mentors, Mary Olne at UCSF and Moses Grossman at SF General Hospital, showed such great patience and answered all of my questions when I was in my residency. Now I have a chance to give back. By providing these undergraduate students with the opportunity to follow me during my rounds at O’Connor Hospital. I can help them understand the context in which ethical decisions are made. They get to see first-hand that ethics is a part of a healthcare professional's everyday life. This prepares them for decisions they'll make in graduate school and in their future jobs."

"These students come back from their rotations with him filled with ideas and energy, and ask us to send them back even after their required internship hours have been completed," says Kozas. "We are truly grateful to Dr. Wenner for enriching these students’ lives!"

    In his free time, Wenner enjoys attending the Ethics Center's lectures and receptions, which provide fresh perspectives on ethics in health care and a broad range of other topics. His generous support each year ensures that the Center can continue to present these programs and help a new crop of interns develop their moral compass.

    Donors like Wally help the Ethics Center provide valuable programs it's your turn to show your support! Are you “ALL IN FOR SCU?” Wednesay March 18 is a special day of giving when you can donate to the Ethics Center through SCU’s 24-hour challenge. Our goal is #100 Donorsin1 Day. Thank you in advance for your contribution, and stay tuned for updates on the SCU Donate Page. To donate to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, choose the Center on the drop down menu, and send an optional tweet using #100Donorsin1Day so we can track your support. That’s it! You can also follow the day of giving via social media through #allinforSCU.

  •  Enhancing Resiliency and Cultivating Compassion in Youth

    Monday, Mar. 16, 2015 3:51 PM

    Featured speaker: Professor Rony Berger, Tel-Aviv and Ben-Gurion Universities, Israel

    Co-sponsored by the SCU Liberal Studies Program, the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences,
    and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Date: Wednesday April 22, 2015, 5 p.m
Location: Benson Center, Williman Room

    The first "Compassion in Action for Children Lecture in Liberal Studies" features Dr. Rony Berger, a world-renowned psychologist who has worked extensively with children in high conflict areas worldwide to help them develop resiliency and foster compassion. Professor Berger is leading a large international study to identify underlying processes that transform former political extremists and gang members from anti-social violence into peaceful pro-social activities. He serves on the advisory board of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, and has helped design their compassion cultivation programs. He will also discuss his research with youth to enhance resiliency and increase compassion with school-based programs, done in partnership with the Dalai Lama and MindLife Institute.

    This video of interest illustrates one of Dr. Berger's programs that uses art and music to promote nonviolence and
    reduce stereotypes.

    A reception follows, sponsored by the Santa Clara University Future Teachers Program.

    Follow the event on Twitter: @scuethics #youth

  •  The Psychology of Compassion and Cruelty: Interdisciplinary Reflections

    Thursday, Mar. 12, 2015 3:46 PM

    Date: Monday April 6, 2015, noon - 1:15 p.m.
    Location: Vari Hall, The Wiegand Center

    This event features Santa Clara University contributors to The Psychology of Compassion and Cruelty: Understanding the Emotional, Spiritual, and Religious Influences. The book was edited by Thomas Plante, the Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J., University Professor and Director of the Spirituality and Health Institute at Santa Clara University. Additional contributors and panelists for the event are: Barbara Burns, SCU Liberal Studies, Andre Delbeq, SCU Management, Diane Dreher, SCU English Sarita Tamayo, SCU Religious Studies, and Sarita Tamayo, SCU Religious Studies. This compilation offers expert evidence-based reflections on the development and nurturance of compassion. How do psychology, religion, and spirituality increase compassion and minimize cruelty?

    Anyone who reads the news today understands that the world needs more compassion. Religion and psychology have much to say about this topic, and can be used both to better understand and encourage compassionate behavior in both individuals and groups. The book's publication couldn't be more timely, as expert scholars are now addressing these issues in large numbers, using state-of-the-art methodology to promote and educate on compassionate behavior. The integration of social sciences with spiritual, religious, and theological approaches has produced many collaborative projects, programs, and institutes, with skilled specialists examining these issues from multiple perspectives.

    Follow @scuethics  #ethicscomp

  •  The Trust Project Launches with Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund Donation

    Monday, Mar. 9, 2015 4:48 PM
    The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is pleased to announce that the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund has made a significant investment in our new initiative, the Trust Project. The Trust Project addresses the chaos and misinformation rife in today’s digital environment by exploring techniques to bake the basics of trustworthiness --accuracy, integrity, transparency and inclusion -- into the news.
    "I'm just a news consumer, and only want news I can trust,” said Newmark, founder of craigslist and craigconnects. “The Trust Project is the best chance anyone has of getting there." He said this work aligns with the mission of craigconnects’ “Back to Basics Journalism” initiative.
    Confidence in news media as an American institution is at a record low, under 22 percent, according to a June 2014 Gallup poll. The Trust Project seeks to rebuild confidence and highlight quality, principled newsgathering through identifying trustworthy journalism practices and making them visible to users. “This is a critical time in journalism. We see promising experimentation and a fresh commitment to excellence, but also face a polarized and distrustful audience,” said Sally Lehrman, Senior Fellow in Digital Journalism Ethics at the Center. “Craig Newmark’s partnership gives us the foundation we need to develop tangible solutions. We plan to put technology in service of journalism’s fundamental principles of social responsibility and public trust.”
    This investment by Newmark enables the project to organize a consortium of news leaders to begin development and analysis of a pilot set of scalable, trust-enhancing tools. Examples include clear ethics and diversity policies; information on author expertise and any conflicts of interest; reporting methodology such as number and type of sources; precise links; fact-checking; and deep citations. The Center is working with consortium members to develop metatags that publishers can use to identify such components of trustworthiness and alert both search engines and human readers to top-quality news. Collaborators in the project include US and European news outlets and news distributors such as Google that play notable roles in the digital ecosystem.
    For the past four years, the Ethics Center has convened the Executive Roundtable on Digital Journalism Ethics. Its members, seasoned and innovative journalism leaders, identified news trustworthiness as a core concern for news consumers in the United States and abroad, and launched the Trust Project last fall.
    The Ethics Center’s Executive Director, Kirk Hanson, said, “Craig’s investment in the Trust Project gives us the opportunity to move beyond convening these top leaders and create tangible tools that can have a lasting impact. We are truly grateful for his support.”
    About craigconnects
    Launched in March 2011, craigconnects is Craig Newmark’s personal, Web-based initiative to support philanthropy, public service, and organizations getting results in both areas. The initiative spotlights individuals, organizations and agencies working for veterans and military families, open government, public diplomacy, back-to-basics journalism, consumer protection, and technology for the common good. craigconnects is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives, which enables individuals and groups to create and invest in projects that benefit the public.
  •  Donor Profile: Michele Borba

    Wednesday, Mar. 4, 2015 10:54 AM
    Dr. Michele Borba ’72,’75 is dedicated to fostering moral development in children worldwide. She is an internationally recognized expert and author on children, teens, parenting, and bullying. Her commitment to strengthening children’s character and resilience, building strong families, and fostering compassion in schools, has led her on a journey to engage over one million parents and educators worldwide. Although her schedule is hectic, Michele finds time to stay connected to SCU. Not only did she give an inspiring presentation about bullying prevention at the Ethics Center, but she is an ardent supporter of all our Character Education programs.
    “It was so rewarding to come to the Ethics Center to share bullying prevention tactics with educators from across Silicon Valley,” she states. “I am in such awe of the work of Character Education Director Steve Johnson and the Character Based Literacy program at the Center, that it's actually a pleasure to give money to support this effort!”
    In honor of SCUGives Day on March 18th, the Ethics Center thanks generous donors like Michele Borba. We appreciate your gift this year!
    Back in Palm Desert, Michele is working on her 23rd and 24th upcoming books, one about teaching children the crucial habits of empathy (Simon & Schuster), and the other, 6 Rs to Stop Bullying for Educators (Free Spirit Press).  We look forward to reading them when they are published in 2016.
    Through donations from Michele and others, the Center’s Character Education programs provide innovative curricula that weave ethics into the language arts, science, and social science classes.
    Are you “ALL IN FOR SCU?” Save the date for March 18, a special day of giving when you can donate to the Ethics Center through SCU’s 24-hour challenge. Our goal is 100 donors in 1 Day. Thank you in advance for your contribution, and stay tuned for updates on the SCU Donate Page. To donate to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, choose the Center on the drop down menu…that’s it! You can also follow the day of giving via social media through #allinforSCU.
  •  SCU Ethics Bowl Team in Top 10 at Nationals

    Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2015 11:36 AM

    The following is reprinted from a recent update to the SCU community by Professor of Philosophy, Shannon Vallor.

    Great news to share from SCU's Ethics Bowl team, which competed at the national Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl finals in late February in Costa Mesa, following a fantastic performance at the Regional Ethics Bowl this past December. Team members included:  Alex Arnold, Ryan Barry, Kat DeLong,  Kelly Shi, and Stephanie Thatcher.

    The SCU team made a truly amazing showing at the event, especially for its first time at nationals and only third-ever official competition. Out of 32 teams that made it through the regional competitions to the national finals, our SCU students finished tied for 9th place, just 1 place shy of the top 8 placement needed to advance to the championship rounds.

    While making it into the top 10, the SCU team also won rounds against two former national Ethics Bowl champions, Whitworth University and the US Naval Academy. One of those teams, Whitworth, was the eventual 2nd place finisher in this year's competition, advanceing to the finals ahead of us only because of greater point differentials in their other early round victories.

    Please congratulate the Ethics Bowl students and their coaches on an incredible showing. They put in countless hours of preparation and practice to make this happen; collectively and individually they embody SCU's core values and our unique strength in the realm of practical ethics education.

    A big thank you to coaching by Assistant Professor of Philosophy Erick Ramirez, and Markkula Ethics Center staff Patrick Coutermarsh and Brian Green. The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics provided full financial support for the coaches and students - this victory would not have been possible without their enduring material and moral support. Thanks also to the campus community for all the encouragement and good wishes you communicated to the team leading up to the Nationals. We look forward to competing again next year.

    We expect the team's success this year to help us to recruit a fantastic group of new students for the Fall 2015 Ethics Bowl Team course: PHIL 180. Please encourage any students who want to learn more about joining next year's Ethics Bowl team to contact Assistant Professor Erick Ramirez.

    For more information, read the most recent press release.


  •  Hack for the Homeless

    Monday, Mar. 2, 2015 2:27 PM

     The Ethics Center's Web developer, Sai Modalavalasa, took second place out of 70 entries in the University's Hack for the Homeless event March 1.  The student-led event is a hackathon during which students spend 24 hours coding mobile apps that the homeless can use.  

    This year’s project is to help with a Community Technology Alliance program called Mobile4All. Several companies have donated phones that will be given to the homeless.  The plan is for the winning apps to be preloaded into the phones to help impoverished individuals find services.

    Modalavalasa created an app, Home for the Homeless, which he describes as "a virtual home in your pocket."  Here are the features:

    • Can't pay your mobile bill because you have no credit card ? - The app solves the problem powered by a volunteer network.
    • Don't have a mail box? - Use the app and get one.
    • Searching for beds ? - The app lists them.
    • Looking for jobs? - The app lists them.
    • Want to share your profile at the click of a button to anyone? - The app has the answer.

    Modalavalasa, like the other contestants, donated the code he wrote to the University, which donates it to the nonprofit interested in deploying it.

  •  5 Minutes with Student Assistant Karen Snowden

    Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015 2:11 PM

    We recently met with our new Character Education student assistant Karen Snowden, a sophomore at SCU. We invite you to learn more about Karen, and join us in welcoming her! 

    1.  What year are you in at SCU and what is your major?
    I am currently a sophomore at SCU and I’m double majoring in Psychology and Child Studies.

    2.  What is your role at the Ethics Center, and what do you most enjoy about it?
    I’m a student assistant in the Character Education Department of the Ethics Center, and so far I most enjoy proofreading and formatting the Character Based Literacy curriculum and the Build Plant Grow curriculum. I also enjoy helping to maintain the website.

    3.  What are your hobbies and career aspirations?
    I enjoy volunteering and have been a volunteer at Washington Elementary School’s after-school program for two years. In my free time, I also like to read, play and listen to music, and spend time with family and friends. In the future, I hope to continue working with children and families as a child psychologist or counselor.

    4.  Where are you from and what is your favorite thing about your hometown or city?
    I’m from Seattle, Washington, and I love the mild climate, the beautiful landscapes, and the Seattle Seahawks.

    5.  What is your favorite song?
    “Emphasis” by Sleeping at Last.

    6.  Who do you most admire as a role model, and why?
    My mom has worked as a teacher in the Seattle Public School system for nearly 30 years. Her perseverance and dedication to working with her elementary school students is so inspiring. Her devotion to teaching and to her students despite frustrations and challenges has fostered my interest in working with children, inspires me to work hard in the face of adversity, and to remember the small things that make each day worthwhile.

    7.  What have been the most memorable or life changing moments in your life?
    Atttending Santa Clara University and pursuing psychology and child studies, and volunteer experiences working with preschoolers, infants, and elementary school children. 

    You can read more about our Character Education Program here.

  •  How Ethical Is Climate Neutrality?

    Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 2:40 PM

    Santa Clara University is on the path to emitting net zero carbon dioxide. Why should we strive for climate neutrality and how are we going about it? Find out the answers and bring your own questions to this fascinating panel discussion with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Enivironmental Ethics Fellows, Hannah Maryanski and Kate Cooper.

    "Like many universities, Santa Clara University has a 'carbon neutral by the end of 2015' goal, but is meeting the goal enough?" writes Maryanski in a new article on our website, The Ethics of Carbon Offsets. As a Jesuit institution, we are called to examine the ethics of the neutrality commitment, and our impressive sustainability goals give us the unique opportunity to influence how other Jesuit and Catholic schools take action on climate change. Carbon offsetting, a common aspect of many carbon neutrality commitments, presents us with an ethical dilemma: Can we pay others to forgive our pollution? As SCU moves forward in our commitment, we must ask ourselves two questions: first, whether we should purchase carbon offsets, and second, what type of offsetting techniques we should fund.