Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Programs in Character Education

Since 1990, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics has offered a range of programs for schools, students, and parents. These programs, pioneered and developed by Steve Johnson, have introduced character education into hundreds of schools by integrating the exploration of core values into the teaching of language arts in grades K-12.

While reading required books, poems, and other materials, students examine key elements of character and virtue. Many Center programs focus on preparing teachers and administrators to use this curriculum.

Simultaneously, the Center has developed programs to aid parents in raising an ethical child and programs to assist school administrators and teachers in designing various school activities to reinforce the formation of character.

The key components of the Center's work in this area are described below. More information is available on the Center's Web site at

Character-Based Literacy (CBL)
A program that integrates education about values into the language arts curriculum, CBL is currently in place at more than 200 schools. The Center offers workshops for educators, curriculum materials, on-site visits, and individual consultations with teachers. Five Bay Area counties participate and another two California counties are expected to join in 2002-03. This program is supported in part by grants from the Markkula Foundation and the Walter S. Johnson Foundation.

Ethics Camp
Summer camps for teachers, counselors, and administrators provide four days of intensive instruction in Character-Based Literacy, with special sessions for educators in alternative settings and in Catholic schools. More than 500 teachers have participated in Ethics Camp since it began in 1998.

Special Education Program
Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Ethics Center and the SCU Division of Counseling, Psychology and Education (CP&E) train special education teachers to be resources for their schools on character education.

Character Education Master's Program
In conjunction with CP&E, the Center runs a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Education with an emphasis in character education.
[This program is no longer available.]

Raising an Ethical Child
Thousands of parents have attended these workshops on moral development, which range from single evening presentations to series. Next year, the workshops will be offered in three languages in a cooperative program with Stonegate Elementary School and Stonegate Family Center in San Jose.

Ethics in the Schools
Center Director of Character Education Steve Johnson, is a popular speaker for school districts and regional conferences, especially in the areas of Workability (workplace readiness) and Healthy Start (mental and physical health including substance and alcohol abuse prevention).