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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Kirk O. Hanson

Kirk O. Hanson

Senior Fellow

Kirk O. Hanson is a senior fellow of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and former executive director of the Center.

Hanson was the executive director of the Ethics Center for 17 years, from 2001-2018. He was also the John Courtney Murray S.J. University Professor of Social Ethics. In 2001, he took early retirement from the faculty of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where he taught for 23 years and is now an emeritus faculty member.

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is one of the most active ethics centers in the United States, working in the fields of business, government, journalism, engineering, internet ethicshealth care ethics, social sector ethics, leadership ethics, and K-12 character education. Hanson coordinated the activities of over 25 staff members who worked directly for the Center and 70 affiliated faculty scholars who worked on all aspects of applied and professional ethics. During his term as executive director, the Center grew from a staff of six to 26, and emerged as the largest university-based ethics center in the world.

On the Stanford Business School faculty from 1978 through 2001, Hanson was a pioneer in the study of business ethics and business responsibility. He taught in Stanford's MBA and Executive Programs throughout his career there, and was also Faculty Director of the Sloan Master's Program, Stanford's masters program for mid-career executives (now the Stanford MSx Program).

As senior fellow, Hanson writes on managing the ethical and public behavior of corporations and their leaders. He co-edited a four-volume series released in 2006 entitled The Accountable Corporation. His current research interests include the design of corporate ethics programs and the responsibilities of boards for the ethical culture of organizations. Since 1973 Hanson has advised over 100 businesses on the design of corporate ethics programs.

He was the founding president of The Business Enterprise Trust, a national organization created by leaders in business, labor, media, and academia to promote exemplary behavior in business organizations; the first Chairman of the Santa Clara County Political Ethics Commission; and a weekly columnist on workplace ethics for the San Jose Mercury News. Hanson currently serves on the boards of directors of the Skoll Community Fund and the Compassion Institute, on the Advisory Board of the Neely Center for Ethical Leadership at the University of Southern California, and was the founding chair of the Advisory Board of the Center for International Business Ethics in Beijing, China's first center for the study of business ethics. He has twice chaired Stanford University's Committee on Investment Responsibility which advises the Stanford Board of Trustees on social investment issues.

Hanson is a graduate of Stanford University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has held graduate fellowships and research appointments at the Yale Divinity School and the Harvard Business School. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Portland (2013) and from Santa Clara University (2018). He was honored by the Aspen Institute's Center for Business Education with a lifetime achievement award for contributions to business and society.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Be Different, Ethics Expert Kirk Hanson Tells SCU Class of 2018

Kirk O. Hanson, Executive Director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, addresses the graduating class of 2018.