Santa Clara University

Ethics Center Blog
Bookmark and Share

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.

The following postings have been filtered by tag values. clear filter
  •  2015 Ethics Camp: Lessons in Building Character in Today's Youth

    Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 4:45 PM

    The 2015 Character Education Ethics Camp brought together teachers and staff from Bay Area high schools for a four-day workshop. The participants in the workshop each manage after-school programs at their respective high schools, ranging from mathematics clubs to bead making classes. Such programs are aimed at keeping students out of trouble and involved in productive, character-building activities.

    Among the many important topics covered throughout the week were the value systems of teens versus adults, and the thoughts, skills and values that go into the formation of a young person’s character.

    So what exactly is character education? Senior Fellow in Character Education Tom Kostic aptly describes it as the deliberate effort to cultivate virtue. It is everything done in a school that influences the kind of person a student becomes.

    In considering the formation of a young person’s character, Kostic focuses on three main criteria: values, skills, and thoughts.

    A person’s values are largely determined by the different role models he or she has in his or her life. What’s interesting is that traditional role models have changed from generation to generation; whereas many of today’s adults viewed their parents as role models growing up, many kids today find role models in the media, entertainment, and sports.

    Character formation also has much to do with one’s thought processes. The ability to effectively problem solve, reflect on one’s experiences, reference a reliable ethical framework, and think straight are all critical to the development of character.

    Finally, the ability to cooperate with peers, control one’s anger and restrain sudden impulses are just a few examples of skills that will facilitate the growth of a young person’s character.

    True to good workshop form, the sessions were filled with animated conversations, as participants examined how they could each help cultivate the right values, skills, and thoughts in the minds and hearts of their students. Unfortunately, not all educators share the enthusiasm for character education that manifests itself at the Ethics Camp.

    The state of California has a character education code for its schools, but the argument can be made that much more should be done to promote the character of our state’s youth. It has been mandated that every California educator receive a character education manual, and in 2007, October was officially declared “Character Education” month. “But what about the remaining 11 months?” Kostic asked. Shouldn’t character education be emphasized across all subjects, each and every day?

    Character education boils down to creating a culture that calls for us all to be the best people we can be. At Ethics Camp, we see the beginning of that action, engagement and effort.

    The Ethics Camp for afterschool educators was supported by a grant from Goodwill Industries.

  •  Modeling Character

    Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012 1:36 PM
    2012 Ethics Campers

    "Character is who I am today as a result of everything I have become and overcome in my life so far, plus what I become and overcome today." That was the definition of character Steve Johnson, director of character education at the Ethics Center, offered on the opening day of Ethics Camp 2012, a program for teachers on how to integrate character education into the school curriculum. The August 7-10 camp was a special session for new teachers in Catholic elementary and high schools.

    Johnson pointed out that a person's character plays a major role in his or her success, and that schools can inculcate the habits of good character that will serve their students well, not only academically but in their everyday lives. He cited a study of basic habits that increased people's odds of being successful in the workplace. They included:

    • Show up
    • On time
    • Start promptly
    • Follow directions
    • Finish tasks
    • Get along with others

    When the these good habits--accountability and responsibility, for example--become ingrained, they make up our virtues.

    Ethics Camp focuses on showing teachers how to foster the virtues. Where do children learn virtues (or, for that matter, vices)? From role models, legends and heroes, family stories, literature, and other sources, Johnson said. "Whoever spends the most time with a child has the greatest influence on his or her values," he added, warning that today's young people often spend more time with peers and the mass media than they do with parents or other adults.

    In this context, teachers are especially important role models. "The job of a teacher is often counter-cultural," Johnson observed. Insisting on respect, kindness, and honesty in the classroom provides a crucial counterweight to the values children may encounter in the media or on the playground.

    This modeling is not just about teaching a particular content, he went on. "There's an old saying: 'The Catholic school teacher teaches in every breath and glance and move." Johnson stressed that teachers convey their values through how they set up their classrooms. "How can you make sure," he asked the participants, "that what pays off in your classroom are actually the values and behaviors you say are important?"

    Ethics Camp was developed by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in collaboration with the Diocese of San Jose.

  •  Leadership in Government Ethics

    Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 1:55 PM

    Ethics is not just about following rules; it's about core values, said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics, addressing a recent conference in Dallas, sponsored by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility in collaboration with the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business.

    Further, she argued, "it's not just about knowing your core values but also about having the courage to actuallys stick to those values and speak hard truths."

    Nadler was one of four participants in a panel on "Ethical Leadership and Values."

  •  We Cannot Rely Purely on Rules to Govern Ethical Behavior

    Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 2:37 PM

    Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Center, argued that "the law is the floor, not the ceiling" when it comes to ethical behavior in a talk she gave Nov. 2 at the conference "Ethics, Trust &Transparency.

    The conference was sponsored by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at Southern Methodist University’s Dallas campus.

  •  Managing Ethics in a Company

    Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011 11:36 AM

    Four different strategies for managing ethics are analyzed by Center Executive Director and nted business ethicist Kirk O. Hanson.  He reviews relying on employee values, compliance, ethics exhortation, and managing values.