The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics marked its 30th anniversary in the 2016-17 academic year. As part of that celebration, the Center identified four key elements of its vision for the future.
In the next 10 or even 30 years, we have great aspirations for what the Markkula Center can become and can contribute to the world. There is no being modest about it. We have a unique opportunity because of our scale and success; we have the responsibility to take advantage of that opportunity; and we have a plan to do so. Here is our vision.
- We will be one of, if not the major ethics educator in the world. Our cases, curricula, videos, and courses, most of them free, have already been used by millions of individuals, institutions and professional societies, but these will spread further. People around the world will use our resources to help educate their staffs and their institutions about ethical behavior and ethical governance. In this way, we are shaping the behavior of individuals and institutions worldwide.
- We will double down on forming the ethical character of the next generation, making our materials available to an increasing number of colleges and universities, increasing our resources on character education for K-12 public and faith-based schools. We will expand our ethics internships in Silicon Valley hospitals, businesses, and governments, thereby influencing both the students and the institutions they intern in. In all these ways, we will help create a generation of young leaders who can spot an ethical dilemma and know how to approach it.
- We will be a very prominent and trusted commentator and interpreter of ethical developments in society and its institutions, providing thoughtful analysis of the ethics of these breaking issues to an ever-widening set of traditional and new media platforms. Today we are handling a rising number of press inquiries. We can respond to them because we have assembled the most talented team of ethics experts. We do this with a commitment to be a nonpartisan, fact-based, and rational voice. In this way, we can help shape the responses of decision makers and the public to the issues and incidents we address.
- And finally, we will expand our capacity to respond quickly and do in-depth ethical analysis of unexpected and truly new social and technological problems which arise. By having the funding and staffing capacity to study an issue quickly, providing rapid and insightful analysis, we can have an outsized impact on how society thinks about and responds to new developments. We will build the Center’s Opportunity Fund to increase this capacity.
In pursuing these four goals over the 10 and 30 years to come, we will be true to our DNA that we don’t teach people what to think, but we work incredibly hard to teach them how to recognize the ethical questions they face, and how to think through and choose wisely an ethical course of action.
Ethics has always been about the impact of our actions on others, but in the next years it must focus more on thinking through how decisions impact ALL others – the lowest level hourly employee, the least advantaged child, the poor and middle class in America, and the billions of people beyond our borders and across the globe.
We need to understand better the lives, values and the ethical dilemmas of millennials, generation Xers, and digital natives. And the Center will have to understand the culture and ethical values of those who may not share all of our ethical assumptions —whether they be Chinese or Indians, Africans or Russians – even different segments of our own American society.
The welfare and happiness of the next generation and of the health of our global society depend on clear ethical thinking and action. The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics has a critical role to play in creating a more humane and sustainable future for all.