Director, Religious and Catholic Ethics and Campus Ethics Programs
David DeCosse is Director of Religious and Catholic Ethics and Campus Ethics Programs at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and Adjunct Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University. He has been at the Ethics Center since 2002.
As Director of Campus Ethics Programs, he has worked to put on a wide variety of public events on campus; worked extensively with undergraduate student fellows on projects in applied ethics; managed the Ethics Center's research grant program; and worked more broadly on campus on topics ranging from academic integrity to ethics in student government to the hookup culture to engineering ethics to environmental ethics and more. Recently, he organized a major conference at Santa Clara University on Laudato Si, the encyclical on the environment by Pope Francis.
He teaches such classes as the Ethics of War and Peace, Christianity and Politics, and the Theology and Ethics of Thomas Aquinas. A Catholic theologian, he is especially interested in the intersection of Catholic theology with contemporary democratic culture. He has written articles for the journal Theological Studies on lying and the Iraq War; freedom of the press and the Catholic sexual abuse crisis; and freedom of speech and the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. He has edited or co-edited a number of books, including But Was It Just: Reflections on the Morality of the Persian Gulf War and Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism in the United States: The Challenge of Becoming a Church for the Poor.
Recently, he has been publishing essays on the theology of conscience in places ranging from National Catholic Reporter to the book called From Vatican II to Pope Francis: Charting a Catholic Future. He is the co-editor of the bookConscience and Catholicism: Rights, Responsibilities, and Institutional Responses and is slated to edit a second, similar volume called Conscience and Catholic Health Care: From Clinical Contexts to Government Mandates. Both of these conscience books emerged from conferences hosted by the Ethics Center. DeCosse is writing a book called Catholicism and the Equality of Freedom: An Essay in Social Ethics. He has written widely for journalistic outlets ranging from theSan Francisco Chronicle to the Philadelphia Inquirer to Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.
He is a graduate of Harvard College and of the doctoral program in theological ethics at Boston College.