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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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  •  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.

  •  Compassion and the Classroom

    Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 10:00 AM

    Compassion and the K-12 Classroom: Tips for Teachers at Catholic Schools and Beyond

    Wednesday March 4, 2015
    5:00-6:00 p.m.
    St. Clare Rm, Learning Commons

    How do you teach about compassion in the classroom, especially amid a hurried, smartphone-checking K-12 population? And how do you do so in the context of Catholic schools in a way that connects young people meaningfully with the stories of compassion in the Gospels? Father Tom Bonacci, a Passionist priest, is a highly-sought after speaker on such topics, and leads this presentation.
    Join us on Twitter: @scuethics  
    Event: #classroomethics

  •  Memory in the Information Age

    Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 10:00 AM

    Recording, Recalling, Retrieving, Remembering:
    Memory in the Information Age

    Wednesday February 25, 2015
    7-8:30 p.m.
    NEW LOCATION AS OF FEBRUARY 13: De Saisset Museum

    Professor Luciano Floridi, one of the five members of Google’s Advisory Board on “the right to be forgotten," will address the recent debate on that topic within a broader interpretation of the impact that information and communication technologies have on our self-understanding, our social interactions, and our conceptualization of the world.

    Floridi is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford, where he is the Director of Research of the Oxford Internet Institute. He has held the UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics, and in 2012 he was the Chairman of the E.U. Commission’s “Onlife Initiative.” He is the author of numerous books, including The Fourth Revolution - How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality (2014), The Ethics of Information (2013), and The Philosophy of Information (2011).

    This event is part of the "IT, Ethics, and Law" lecture series, and is co-sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the High Tech Law Institute, the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, and (New!) The Commonwealth Club of California, Silicon Valley.

    Join us on Twitter:@scuethics Event: #infoethics


  •  Ethics and Economic Inequality

    Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 1:54 PM

    Ethics and Economic Inequality

    February 19, 2015
    noon 1:00 p.m.
    Lucas Hall

    French economist Thomas Piketty argued in his groundbreaking recent work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, that in the U.S. today, the inequality of income from a job is "probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world, including societies in which skill disparities were extremely large." This panel of SCU economics professors will discuss Piketty's book and offer thoughts on the ethical implications of the current state of income and wealth distributions.


    *Professor Alexander Field, SCU Orradre Professor of Economics
    *Professor William Sundstrom, SCU Economics

    FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @scuethics
    EVENT: #ethicsecon

  •  New Social Media Ambassador Program for MOOCS

    Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 4:15 PM

    MOOC Registration now open

    The Ethics Center is relaunching its incentive package for students in its popular online business ethics courses  (MOOCs). In addition to the benefits listed below, participants have the opportunity to be Social Media Ambassadors through our SMAP (Social Media Ambassadors Program.) On Twitter, follow @scuethics and tweet about the course as you take them, using the hashtag #MarkkulaMOOC. Prepared tweets embedded in the course easily allow users to easily click and tweet! The most frequent tweeter by March 3 will win a $50 Amazon gift card!

    Other benefits include:

    • Letter of Completion: Letter of completion from the Ethics Center
    • Unique, self-paced learning environment
    • Badge: Official "badge" to highlight your success, for display on websites, socia media, LinkedIn Profiles, etc.
    • New Course Module led by Ethics thought leaders  -- details coming soon

    About the MOOCS

    Nearly 3,000 students and business professionals have already registered for our online business ethics courses since their launch, and we invite newcomers to the Winter 2015 session, open until June 15, 2015. The MOOCs are hosted on the platform and are taught by Kirk O. Hanson, longtime professor of business ethics at Stanford Graduate School of Business and
    Santa Clara University.

    Registration is now open


    Explores the nature of ethics, its role in a business career, and how to make practical ethical decisions.

    Examines how managers and executives can create and sustain an ethical culture.

    3 Hours of Business Ethics Training Each Week for 4 Weeks:
    Each course is organized to take no more than 2-3 hours per week, and the course is designed to be completed in 4 weeks. Students can take the courses anytime during the period they are open.

    Online Activities on Business Ethics:

    Each week, students will have 2 or 3 short lectures to watch. Afterwards, they will participate in 3 related activities: a case discussion on a real business scenario, a short exercise, and a quiz. The final project for each course is an ethical analysis, and peer reviews of other students' analyses.

  •  Special Event: Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga on Mercy

    Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 11:48 AM

    The Ethics Center is delighted to feature Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga as our Regan Lecturer for the 2014-15 academic year. The Cardinal will speak on the theme of mercy on January 20, 7 pm, in light of Pope Francis' emphasis on this theme, and such issues as the migration of children from Central America to the United States, the Vatican Synod on Pastoral Care of the Family, and economic inequality. One of the most influential leaders in the Catholic Church today, Cardinal Rodriguez is coordinator of the unprecedented eight-member Council of Cardinals named by Pope Francis to provide counsel on Church governance.

    Follow this event on Twitter: @scuethics
    Event hashtag: #maradiaga


    TIME: 7 PM


  •  SCU Ethics Bowl Team Advances to Finals

    Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 4:15 PM
    The SCU Ethics Bowl team is sponsored by the Ethics Center.

    Guest Post by Shannon Vallor, Department Chair and SCU Associate Professor of Philosophy


    Congratulations to SCU’s student Ethics Bowl team for their victorious performance at the regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition in Santa Barbara this weekend. In just their third year of competition, the SCU students have advanced to the national finals! They will be among 32 college teams competing at the 19th annual Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition, to be held in Costa Mesa on February 22, 2015.

    The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl is a team-based national competition that highlights education in practical and professional ethics. Prior to each competition, teams receive a set of specific cases representing a range of concrete ethical issues in society and prepare their ethical analyses of each case. At the competition, students answer questions and offer further justifications of their analyses. Judges evaluate the teams based on the quality, relevance and logical rigor of their ethical reasoning.

    This is an astonishing success for such a young team; in the California regionals, SCU defeated powerhouse competitors such as former regional co-champions UC Santa Cruz, and placed third overall. Please join me in congratulating the participating students, who are listed below, for representing SCU and its core values so well. They performed with great skill, intellectual acuity, persistence and sportsmanship. They worked intensely throughout the Fall studying cases and practicing arguments as part of the Philosophy department’s new Ethics Bowl course (PHIL 180), which now provides a permanent curricular basis for the team.

    SCU’s victory would not have been possible without the brilliant and tireless leadership of our Ethics Bowl instructor and coaches, Assistant Professor Erick Ramirez, the Markkula Center's Assistant Director of Campus Ethics Programs Brian Green, and Business Ethics Program coordinator Patrick Coutermarsh.  Next time you see them on campus, please congratulate them as well!

    I also wish to thank and fully acknowledge the contributions of SCU’s Ethics Bowl sponsor, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. They have funded the coaches and travel, and have provided moral support since the team’s inception three years ago. Special thanks are owed to the Center's Executive Director Kirk Hanson and Director of Campus Ethics Programs David DeCosse, and to our former Assistant Professor Mike Hickson who helped to create the Ethics Bowl program at SCU. Thanks also to the SCU faculty who participated as mock judges in November practice sessions, and to the College of Arts and Sciences and the Provost for empowering the Philosophy department’s creation this year of the new Ethics Bowl course, PHIL 180. Interested students can contact Erick Ramirez at for more information about the course, which is offered in the Fall quarter and open to students of all majors.

    We look forward to many more great things from SCU’s Ethics Bowl program, in February and in the years to come!

    2014 SCU Ethics Bowl Student Team Members

    Kelly Shi
    Andrew Weaver
    Kat DeLong
    Alex Arnold
    Eric Johnson
    Stephanie Thatcher
    Ryan Barry
    Paris Coyne