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Building a Center of Distinction
This fall, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics celebrated its 10th anniversary and marked the occasion by completing a strategic plan for the next five years. By 2001, according to the plan, the Center's programs will be nationally recognized models for integrating ethics into campus learning environments and for addressing key ethical issues facing Silicon Valley and beyond.
"Nothing is more characteristic of our era than accelerating changes, which continually raise new ethical issues," the plan begins. "For example, medical advances have forced us to address the issues of patients' rights and the right to die. The growth of large organizations has led us to inquire into the rights of workers and the impact of corporate culture on the lives of employees.... Whether we are involved in business, medicine, law, teaching, the military, engineering, counseling, journalism, or any other profession, we face ethical questions every day."
To determine how best to assist people in addressing these questions, the steering committee that sets overall policy for the Center, "began a yearlong process of reflection on what we were doing well and how we might expand on our strengths," said Thomas Shanks, S.J., Center director. Out of those discussions, the Center identified three specific areas where it is well-positioned to offer significant contributions: technology, health care, and international human rights and immigration.
While many centers focus solely on business ethics or biomedical ethics, the Markkula Center has chosen a different approach: "We want to be flexible enough to be able to address emerging social, public-policy, and corporate issues," Shanks explained.
In addition, the plan commits the Center to refining its theoretical model for ethical decision making, or, as Shanks describes it, "the methodology that is common to all our disparate activities."
Human Rights and Immigration
According to Musalo, a major purpose of the project will be to foster dialogue on the subject. "In our society, immigration has become an especially divisive issue," she said. "It's important for us to help people come together and to bring ethical considerations and compassion back into the discussion."
One component of the project will be an interdisciplinary program and educational modules in international human rights. These will be complemented by externship opportunities for students and reciprocal visits by human rights scholars, faculty, and students from other institutions. (A story about a faculty trip to Guatemala also appears in this issue.
In the larger community, the Center is already involved in the Applied Ethics Center at San Jose's O'Connor Hospital, a joint venture established in 1994 that provides guidance for health-care practitioners and patients. Margaret McLean directs the O'Connor Applied Ethics Center and serves as director of programs in health-care ethics at the Markkula Center. She noted the centers will co-sponsor a community forum on organ and tissue donation this spring.
On April 12, the Markkula Center will collaborate with O'Connor, the Santa Clara County Medical Association, and SCU's Executive Development Center to offer a conference on managed care. Besides looking at the effectiveness of HMOs in providing quality care, the conference will address the ethical implications. Topics to be covered include how to respect the rights and dignity of all stakeholders, how to ensure fairness, and how to work together to promote the common good of the local community.
For three years, the Center has worked intensively with San Jose's Tech Museum of Innovation to incorporate ethical considerations into its exhibits, both at its current location and in planning for its new site, due to open in 1998. In addition, the Center is co-sponsoring annual conferences on ethics and technology along with Loyola University of Chicago and a Jesuit university on the East Coast. The second, planned for this spring, will take place at Loyola.
In the meantime, the Center is making full use of high technology on its Web site, The Ethics Connection (http://www.scu.edu/Ethics/). SCU students, with faculty guidance, have built and are maintaining this site, which features articles from Issues in Ethics, a Center calendar, cases and responses, transcripts of Ethics at Noon presentations, and links to other ethics-related sites.
Inside and Outside the Classroom
This fall, a new course open to undergraduates, graduate students, and members of the larger community will discuss the ethical dimension of the propositions on the November ballot in California and some of the issues in the presidential election. Sessions are planned on the California Civil Rights Initiative, legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, raising the minimum wage, and other topics.
"We're also looking at ways to make ethics part of co-curricular activities so that students keep bumping up against the same ideas both inside and outside the classroom," Shanks explained. "Our goal is to graduate students with the brains to make a difference and the hearts to want to do so."
A University-Wide Process
The Markkula Center was identified as a potential center of distinction and invited to develop a plan to carry out these goals. The Center's proposal, said Shanks, "supports people not only in learning to make good ethical decisions but also in making an overall commitment to living as ethical individuals, helping to create ethical workplaces and homes, and contributing to building an ethical society." The Center hopes these programs can serve as models that might be reproduced by other universities in other regions.
|Issues in Ethics - V. 7, N. 3 Fall 1996|
|Demonizing Our Opponents|
|on the one hand|
|May the Best...Woman Win|
|The Common Ground Project|
|a case in point|
|The Sole Remaining Supplier|
|Responses to the Case of the Long-Distance Cancer Treatment|
|Responses to the Case of Maria Elena|
|a good read|
|A Testament to Ethics|
|Another Kind of Justice: SCU Trip Spurs Ethical Reflection|
|letters to the editor|
|Immigration Threatens California|
|Close the Back Door|
|Is Defense of Wife Abuser Ethical?|
|Uelman Piece Thought-Provoking|
|A Perfect Resource|
|scholars at work|
|Marilyn Edelstein: Love, Literature, and Morality|
|Dennis Moberg: Employee Virtue, Employee Vice|
|at the center|
|Strategic Plan Takes Us Into 2001|
|Presidential Professor William Spohn|
|Ethics, Courts, and the Mass Media|
|issues in ethics tools|