Santa Clara University

Ethics Center Blog
Bookmark and Share
 
RSS

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.

  •  Solitary Confinement

    Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 12:04 PM

    The death this week of Herman Wallace, released after more than 40 years in the Secure Housing Unit of Angola State Prison in Louisiana, highlighted the issue of long-term solitary confinement in the American penal system.  A 2005 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found 81,622 people held in solitary, many for years or even decades.  Reform advocates have called the conditions and length of this form of imprisonment cruel and unusual punishment.

    SCU Professor of Law Ellen Kreitzberg visited the Ethics Center this week for a discussion on solitary confinement and whether it violates the constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  Kreitzberg created and directs the University's Death Penalty College.

  •  New LinkedIn Group on Startup Ethics

    Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 11:35 AM

    Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma in a startup environment? Or, are you considering a new entrepreneurial business venture? We have a new LinkedIn Group for you! "The Ethical Startup" is an interactive Group launched this fall comprised of entrepreneurs, funders, and their colleagues, dedicated to identifying and developing best practices in entrepreneurship.

    Here's how it works: During this 7-week project, ethical dilemmas will be posted each Monday, with group discussion and a call for comments. Participants are asked to share their knowledge  and/or personal experience with these issues, with top contributors being honored online. After the project, the Ethics Center will use your feedback as the foundation for a definitive guide to startup ethics. Links to the group and each week's discussion will also be shared on The Ethic Center's Facebook and Twitter profiles in order to expand the online community members and outreach.

    Sample weekly topics for discussion include Board, Investor, and Customer Relations, Hiring Your First Employees, Organizing Your Team, Family Considerations, When to Quite and/or Cash In, and more.

    The project leads are Kirk O. Hanson, Executive Director of The Markkula Center, and Patrick Coutermarsh, the Center's first Fellow in Applied Ethics and a recent graduate of Santa Clara University.

  •  Welcome New Student Fellows

    Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 10:37 AM

    Hackworth Fellows

    The Hackworth Fellows are Santa Clara University undergraduates who provide ethics programming for students. They can be reached at 408-554-5319, or by sending an email to hackworths@scu.edu. The Fellowships are made possible by a gift from Joan and the late Michael Hackworth. Read more...

    Nellie Bohac
    Nellie Bohac'14 is a finance and political science double major. She will be expanding the Center's Global Jesuit Dialog on Business Ethics, involving students from Jesuit schools around the world in online conversation about cases in international business. She's also involved in the University's yearbook, The Redwood.
          
    Erin Calister
    Erin Calister'14 is a psychology major and avid yogi and poet. She has been doing research on what factors are associated with an increase in compassion among SCU students, and her Hackworth project will also focus on compassion. She is the current non-fiction editor for the Santa Clara Review literary magazine.
          
    Kori Lennon
    Kori Lennon'14 is a double major in history and women's and gender studies. Her project will focus on ethics in student government. She is public relations vice president for SCU's Associated Student Government.

    * * *

    Honzel Fellow
    The Honzel Fellowship in Health Care Ethics is awarded to an outstanding senior with a passion for ethics as it relates to health care. The Fellow serves as a peer mentor to students in the Center's Health Care Ethics Internship and develops an ethics project with particular relevance to students and alumni.


    Jillian Gerrity
    Jillian Gerrity'14 is a double major in biology and public health. As a Honzel Fellow, she will serve as a peer mentor for the 2013-14 interns in addition to helping the health care ethics team pilot new clinical placements at local hospitals and health care facilities. Outside her fellowship for the Center, she is also working in a Santa Clara biology research lab, which is comparing nationwide data on strains of Neisseria gonorrhea in order to establish more efficient treatment methods and decrease the chance of complete antibiotic resistance.


         

  •  Solar House Competition

    Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 4:32 PM

    As Santa Clara University competes this week in the 2013 Solar Decathlon, the U.S. Department of Energy's contest to build solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive, the University's team distinguishes itself by the attention it pays to the ethical issues behind creating a sustainable home.

    The ethics analysis was spurred by two Environmental Ethics Fellows from the Ethics Center.  Allie Sibole, now a junior, broke down the ethical issues in the use of all the major materials, from aluminum to steel, chosen by the team to build the house.  She also examined all of the categories used to judge the competition.

    Melissa Giorgi, who graduated in June, focused on the community outreach aspects of the project with a particular focus on how to extend the benefits of solar energy to low income communities.

    The Environmental Ethics Fellowship is made possible by a gift from John and Joan Casey. 

  •  Upcoming Event October 9 - Stem Cells, Cloning, and the Conscience of a Nation

    Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 4:27 PM

    William Hurlbut, a physician and Consulting Professor, Stanford University Neuroscience Institute, explores the ethical issues associated with advancing biomedical technology, the biological basis of moral awareness, and the integration of theology and philosophy of biology. His courses in biomedical ethics in the Program in Human Biology have included: Biology, Technology and Human Life, and Ethical Issues in the Neurosciences. He has worked with NASA on projects in astrobiology, and since 1998 has been a member of the Chemical and Biological Warfare working group at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation.

    Hurlbut has come to national prominence for his advocacy of Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT), a scientific method of obtaining pluripotent stem cells without the creation and destruction of human embryos. He has spoken all over the world on the intrinsic dignity of human life, including the moral value of the human embryo. In mid-2007, he was the guest of the BBC World Service Radio programme, The Interview. In 2009, commentary from Dr. Hurlbut was featured in the futurist documentary "Transcendent Man." In 2010, he was featured in the award winning film, "The Human Experience."

    We are fortunate to present this program in part through the generosity of the Project on Conscience in Roman Catholic Thought, funded by Phyllis and Mike Shea.

    You're Invited to Tweet! Tweet with us on this topic before, during, and after the event at: #ethicscells and/or #conscienceproject. Follow us on Twitter at @mcaenews

    JOIN US OCTOBER 9, 12 pm - 1, Wiegand Room, Arts and Sciences Building

  •  Yes, But Is it the Right Thing to Do?

    Monday, Sep. 30, 2013 4:42 PM

     The Ethics Center is featured in Santa Clara Magazine, SCU's alumni publication, with an article detailing the Center's history and current programs in business ethics, bioethics, government ethics, campus ethics, Internet ethics, and character education.

  •  The Conscience Project

    Friday, Sep. 27, 2013 1:47 PM

     Monday, Sept. 30, the Center kicks off The Conscience Project, a yearlong series of talks exploring our inner moral core as we confront contemporary challenges in science, technology, religion, education, and business.

    The first speaker in the series will be George Lucas Jr., professor of public policy at the Naval Postgraduate School, on robot morality.  Other presenters include Stanford Professor William Hurlbut on stem cells and cloning, Notre Dame Professor Darcia Narvaez on teaching moral character, and SCU Professor Manuel Velasquez addressing the question, "Can a business have a conscience?"

    We are fortunate to present these speakers in part through the generosity of the "Project on Conscience in Roman Catholic Thought," funded by Phyllis and Mke Shea.  

     

  •  The American Legal System and Civic Engagement

    Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013 6:58 PM

    Subtitled Why We All Should Think Like Lawyers, Kenneth Manaster's recently published book, The American Legal System and Civic Engagement (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) argues that "ordinary citizens can form their opinions on public issues more intelligently, confidently, and responsibly if they have some guidance on how to do it."  Manaster, a professor of law at Santa Clara University, uses the traditions of the law to illustrate how to engage in responsible public debate.

    Manaster, a scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, is the holder of the University's Presidential Professorship of Ethics and the Common Good.  Under the auspices of the Ethics Center, Manaster brought together faculty members from multiple disciplines to discuss the project.

     

  •  Robot Morality Will Explore Machines and Conscience

    Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013 3:50 PM

    Can we outsource morality to a robot? This isn't just a question for a sci-fi movie. It's a question that arises from rapid advances in the field of robotics. Engineers, for instance, have tried to program robots to make moral decisions, particularly when the stakes are high. George Lucas, of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, will address this topic, particularly as it pertains to the military's increasing reliance on these robots.

    Lucas is Class of 1984 Distinguished Chair in Ethics in the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis), and Professor of Ethics and Public Policy at the Graduate School of Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, CA). He has taught at Georgetown University, Emory University, Randolph-Macon College, the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and served as Philosophy Department Chairman at the University of Santa Clara in California. He has received research fellowships from the Fulbright Commission and the American Council of Learned Societies, and has served three times (in 1986, 1990, and 2004) as director of National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institutes for College and University Faculty.

    We are fortunate to present this program in part through the generosity of the Project on Conscience

    in Roman Catholic Thought, funded by Phyllis and Mike Shea.

    Co-sponsored by Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and The Commonwealth Club of California, Silicon Valley.

    You're Invited to Tweet!
    Tweet with us on this topic before, during, and after the event at: #ethicsrobot and/or #conscienceproject.
    Find us on Twitter at @mcaenews

  •  Software Engineering Ethics

    Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013 2:12 PM

     A new software engineering ethics teaching module from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics has the blogosphere talking about the need for ethics education for engineers.  An article in Pacific Standard, later reposted in Slate, picked up on the work of Center Internet Ethics Director Irina Raicu to develop ethics curricula that can be slipped into courses in engineering.  As she told Pacific Standard, software engineers used to work in big companies where they had checks on the choices they made. 'Now, we’re talking about two guys in hoodies in a garage,' Raicu said. They deploy the code now and fix it later. 'That’s why we need to get them thinking about this early.'"

    The module for software engineers was created by SCU Associate Professor of Philosophy Shannon Vallor with special contributions from Arvind Narayanan, assistant professor of computer science,Princeton University.  Narayanan also raised the issue on the blog Freedom to Tinker, where he asked engineers to submit ethical issues they had confronted in their work.