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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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  •  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


  •  Collopy Portraits of 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winners Installed

    Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 3:40 PM

    The  Ethics Center is pleased to announce the installation of portraits of Kailash Satyarthi, from India, and Malala Yousafzay, from Pakistan, winners of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize to be presented December 10 in Oslo, Norway. 

    The portraits are by noted photographer Michael Collopy and are part of the Architects of Peace photo series and project. They are on display in the lobby of the Vari Arts & Sciences Building, along with short biographies and a quotes by each of the two recipients.

    Kailash Satyarthi, in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, has for many years led peaceful protests focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain. Malala Yousafzay became a strong advocate for the education of women when she began writing a blog about her life under the Taliban for the BBC, at only age 11.  At age 15, she was the target of an assassination attempt as she rode a bus to school.  She has now recovered and, at 17, is a global spokesperson for girls' rights to education.

    We are inspired by these brave campaigners on behalf of the rights of children and youth.  Please stop by and enjoy their portraits!

    More on the 2014 Nobel Prize winners

    More on the Architects of Peace collection


  •  Enjoy Our 2014 Annual Report: Ethical Impact

    Monday, Nov. 17, 2014 12:40 PM

    "Ethical Impact" is the theme of the just-published Ethics Center Annual Report. This easy to read 4-color booklet makes a wonderful keepsake and includes 12 pages of program and photo highlights of the year, along with a special message from Kirk Hanson, executive director. The Ethics Center is particularly proud of its initiatives this year, including the successful launch of its MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses); first-time launch of an ethics app for critical decision making; the groundbreaking visit of His Holiness The Dalai Lama; and a year-long focus on Conscience, bringing in expert leaders from around the globe speaking to packed audiences. 

    We're Interactive!

    Each page is interactive and features links to social shares (just click on the page to the enlarged view to enable this menu), so we invite you to not only enjoy the annual, but to share it online with your friends and colleagues.

    Of course, we could not launch these exciting inititatives without you, our generous supporters, and we thank you for your generosity this season and throughout the years. May you have a joyous holiday season!

    Read the Annual Report


  •  Marquette University Students Love Our MOOCS

    Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 10:15 AM


    Nicky Santos, assistant professor of marketing at Marquette University,has integrated the Ethics Center MOOCS into his curricula.

    The Ethics Center’s online business ethics courses taught by Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson are being integrated into the curriculum for both graduate and undergraduate students at Marquette University. Junior and senior business and advertising and public relations majors in the College of Communication are taking "Business Ethics for the Real World," while MBA students are taking "Creating an Ethical Corporate Culture."

    Students take the classes on their own while discussions prompted from the coursework are integrated into classroom time. Nicky Santos, assistant professor of marketing at Marquette, was motivated to introduced the Ethics Center MOOCs into the curriculum as a way to educate his students on marketing ethics, which he views as a branch of business ethics. He hopes to maintain them in future as part of the business curriculum.

    “The ‘Business Ethics for the Real World’ MOOC provides students with easy-to-understand, basic knowledge of practical business ethics and, more importantly, affords them the opportunity to interact with students and professionals around the world to discuss ethical scenarios. Given that we live in a global world, such an opportunity makes the students aware of the complexities surrounding ethical situations and highlights the need for ethics training,” Santos says.

    Marquette Business Students Comment on their "MOOC" Experience

    As a student of Marquette University, I pride myself in learning about current ethical issues in business, especially in the field of marketing. Our classes aim to prepare us to be ethical corporate citizens as we enter into an ever-changing business environment. The “Business Ethics for the Real World” course allowed me to interact with other students and business professionals that, otherwise, I would not have been able to interact with. It was great to hear different perspectives and insights, especially in regard to often subjective and sensitive ethical business issues. I’m excited to apply the things I have learned in the course as I enter the real world upon graduation!

    Haley Hendrick
    Undergraduate business studentCourse: Marketing and Society: An Ethical Perspective

    The Business Ethics for the Real World course was surprisingly advantageous. I found the scenarios to be realistic to what a business professional could expect, but the way to handle the situation was more difficult to pinpoint than I expected. Viewing and commenting on other students’ answers was another helpful aspect of the course because the answers varied contrary to my original assumptions. When I thought of ethics, I generally thought people would have the same viewpoint, but the online course showed just how much viewpoints could vary making studying business ethics a critical activity within businesses.

    Micah Scott
    Undergraduate business student
    Course: Marketing and Society: An Ethical Perspective

    The online "Business Ethics for the Real World" course has been one of my favorite online courses that I have taken in my four years at Marquette University. What I love most is the fact that anyone around the world can put their two cents into the discussions presented in the course. You learn so much better from others. Reading through another person's argument on how they would handle a situation and what they deem as ethical or unethical leads to deeper thinking because their beliefs don't always coincide with yours.

    Enrique Torruco
    Undergraduate business student
    Course: Marketing and Society: An Ethical Perspective

    I have taken online classes before, but none quite like this one. I truly enjoyed the lectures, as they were very informative yet concise in their delivery. Also, the case discussions were very interesting to me. It was fun to read through others’ posts and see their view on the case as I developed my own opinions. I believe that this part of the course was the most beneficial, because it facilitated discussion between complete strangers from halfway across the world. It was very interesting to see the different cultures come together and express their opinions on what the ethical thing to do in the situation was. All in all, I enjoyed the class and I am glad that we took it as a supplement to the daily ethics course. It helped explain things further and brought new ideas to the table.

    Samantha Kobler
    Undergraduate business student

    Marquette University business students are enjoying our #Bizethics MOOCS and learning about real-world business ethics. Junior and senior business and advertising and public relations majors in the College of Communication are taking "Business Ethics for the Real World," while graduate students who are part-time MBAs working full-time are taking "Creating an Ethical Corporate Culture." Do you #MOOC? Catch the link here for more info!


  •  Ethical Hacking: A Panel Discussion

    Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 12:45 PM

    As more and more breaches occur, concern about cybersecurity keeps growing. Many companies now employ "ethical hackers," whose skills are in high and increasingly in demand. Yet many aren't sure what "ethical hacking" means. This panel of cybersecurity experts will address various topics related to the ethical hacking certification, security issue disclosures, and employment of ethical hackers--including some of the legal and ethical quandaries associated with this fascinating line of work.

    Marisa Fagan – Director of Crowd Ops at Bugcrowd
    Manju Mude – Chief Security Officer at Splunk
    Seth Schoen – Senior Staff Technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Alex Wheeler – Director, Accuvant R&D

    Co-sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the High Tech Law Institute, this event is part of the ongoing "IT, Ethics, and Law" lecture series.

    Tweet with us!
    Follow @scuethics
    event hashtag:#ethicalhacking

  •  Kirk O. Hanson Presents on Ethics and Legislation

    Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 11:15 AM

    The National Ethics and Leadership Summit was held October 9-11 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The event was co-presented by The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and The State Legislative Leaders Foundation, which educates political leaders on critical issues of the day through university-based educational programs. Ethics Center Executive Director Kirk Hanson presented on ethics and legislators as outlined below. We are pleased to share the summary points and highlights of his talk, which emphasize the need for core values, codes of conduct, commitment to ethical standards and assessments, recognition of conflicts of interest and ethical risks, and related ethical frameworks.

    The Role of the Legislative Leader in Shaping the Ethical Culture of the Legislative Body

    In addition to the unavoidable ethical challenges facing any member of a legislative body, we focused yesterday on several dilemmas which the leader would face.  Now it is time to focus on the responsibility of the legislative leader to create and sustain an ethical culture within the legislative body. When we discuss the obligation of chief executives in corporate or nonprofit organizations to create and sustain an ethical culture, we focus on nine key tasks.  These apply equally to the legislative leader who is trying to create an ethical culture in his or her chamber or caucus.

    1. The legislative leader must have and articulate a set of core values which inspire the whole organization.  For a Speaker or President-ProTem, these might include the value of serving the whole people of the State, of doing the public's business free of personal interest, and of creating a cooperative spirit rather than a highly partisan environment.

    2. Some fundamental obligations must be embodied in law or a code of conduct for the body.  Some may even be standards written for how the caucus will operate.  Obviously disclosure of economic interests and other possible conflicts of interest need to be addressed.  There may be bans on concurrent service on other commissions or corporate/nonprofit boards which create problematic conflicts of interest, or clear standards for recusal when conflicts are encountered.

    3. The most important task of the legislative leader is to demonstrate commitment to ethical standards by his or her own behavior.  Personal example is more powerful than any words or code in creating a real culture of ethics.

    4. The leader must create voluntary and even mandatory training in the ethical obligations of all members of the legislature.  The existence of training programs is itself a signal of the topic's importance, but the content of such training helps new and old members understand the complexities of the unavoidable dilemmas legislators face.

    5. The leader must establish systems which support the values and ethical norms of the body.  These may include a robust disclosure process, clear procedures for acknowledging a conflict of interest and recusing oneself, and specific triggers and procedures for ethics investigations.

    6. The leader must identify and alert others to "ethical risks" that arise due to changes in the environment, changes in the legislative process,  or changes in the topics addressed by the legislature.  Among these risks today are changes in campaign finance.

    7. The leader must assure that all members have a place to go to get good ethics advice.  Many situations are complex and require expert help.  This protects the individual member and the reputation of the whole body.

    8. The leader should create a method for addressing the toughest ethical dilemmas faced in the legislature.  There are going to be, both in the legislative body and in the caucus, difficult ethical choices that can harm the personal interests of individual members or parties.  The leader must have a method for dealing with such cases, to insure that they are addressed openly and not buried.

    9. The leader must insure that there is a vigorous compliance process.  Too often, leaders are seen as looking the other way when complaints are brought against old friends or members of the leader's party.  There must be both vigorous ongoing auditing of key ethical norms and quick resolution of ethics complaints.

  •  Of Apps and Heroes

    Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 12:57 PM
    Scott Labarge with Nicholas and Helen Bass

     A lively discussion about the need for modern day models of heroism marked "Ethics After Dark," a reception for Center alumni and friends that was part of SCU's recent Grand Reunion celebration.  Scott LaBarge, associate professor of classics and philosophy, engaged the audience in a consideration of heroes and whether they have to be perfect to be valid role models.

    The Center also introduced a group of alums to its Ethical Decision Making app, a step-by-step guide to considering a decision through lenses such as fairness, utility, and rights.

  •  How the Hobby Lobby Decision Undermines Women's Rights and Threatens Religious Freedom

    Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 9:00 AM

    Leslie Griffin, Boyd Professor of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Law, and a national expert on the intersection of religion, women’s rights, and law, leads this discussion. The “Hobby Lobby” decision by the United States Supreme Court is often referred to as a victory for religious freedom and a defeat for women’s rights. To Professor Griffin, this view is deeply wrong. The decision was certainly a defeat for women’s rights, but was also anything but a victory for religious freedom; instead, it poses a threat to religious freedom. Professor Griffin is a former faculty member of the SCU School of Law. Join us for this lively and informative discussion!

    Location: Lucas Hall, Forbes Room

    Live Tweet With Us!
    Follow @scuethics
    event hashtags:  #hobbylobby #ethicsatnoon

  •  Global Ethics and American Law

    Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 3:15 PM

    Professor David Sloss, Santa Clara Law, asks the question: Has American constitutional law been influenced by ideas of law and ethics coming to these shores, so to speak, from abroad? Should it be shaped by such ideas? Of course, many argue against such influence, thinking that the U.S. Constitution is exceptional and neither has nor should be changed to conform to such ideas. Professor Sloss, an expert on international law, will offer a contrary argument and discuss the ways in which international standards of human rights have influenced the constitutional practice of this country.

    Join us for this dynamic and informative Ethics At Noon session.
    Location: Learning Commons and Library Media Room A

    Live Tweet with us! Follow @scuethics on Twitter #globalethics

  •  Ethics After Dark for Markkula Center Friends and Alumni

    Monday, Sep. 22, 2014 3:54 PM

    Join the staff and alumni of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics for wine and hors d'oeuvres, and a chance to reconnect during Santa Clara University's Grand Reunion. Enjoy a mini-lecture on heroism by Scott LaBarge, associate professor of philosophy and classics, and a brief update on the Ethics Center's current work. Professor LaBarge received the Arnold L. and Lois S. Graves Award in 2004 in recognition of his accomplishments in the classroom, and was recognized with the Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence at SCU in 2012.

    Tweet about this event before, during, and after, with your SCU friends and colleagues!

    Follow @scuethics   use #ethicsafterdark