Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Ethics Connection Gets a Facelift

Where can a Silicon Valley CEO discuss ethics with a Finnish physician, a New York attorney, and a graduate student in Bahrain?

At the Ethics Connection, the Ethics Center's newly redesigned Web site (

A complete "technological facelift" has made the already popular site even easier to navigate for people seeking resources on ethical dilemmas, both public and personal. With particular emphasis on health care, technology, business ethics, international human rights, and migration, the site provides information and practical tips on ethical decision making.

A site-specific search engine enables users to pinpoint the data they need among the Ethics Connection's more than 1,000 pages. In addition, one of the Internet's most comprehensive databases of sites dealing with ethics allows browsers to link to related sites in more than 40 countries.

But the Ethics Connection goes beyond information delivery. Site Coordinator Dylan Pass sees it as part of "a new breed of cyberforums, empowering visitors not to just idly observe someone else's theories, but to engage in an ongoing dialogue about ethical issues." Message boards and a feedback feature help users communicate with one another and Ethics Connection staff. The Ethics Connection is also home to many case studies on which visitors may comment.

The Ethics Connection has taken special care to include as many people as possible in the dialogue, according to Scott Butler, one of the site designers. Individuals using older, text-only browsers and those using speech synthesis software can navigate the site with as much ease as owners of the latest Internet software. Various inventive techniques allow visually impaired visitors to "see" graphics as they explore the site.

Initially designed as an experiment by Santa Clara University undergraduates, the Ethics Connection is still maintained and operated by students under the direction of Center staff. "You can see the success of their work in the statistics," says Miriam Schulman, who supervises the Web Development Team.

Recently, the Ethics Connection has averaged about 1,500 hits a day. The site has logged more than 320,000 hits since its inception in February 1996.