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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Media Mentions

A selection of articles, op-eds, TV segments, and other media featuring Center staff.


AI Impact Assessments are Necessary and Additive to Existing Business Processes

Peter Cullen explores the reluctance of organizations to develop ethical review processes for their AI and related technology.

"There are countless free frameworks and coursework to support implementation of ethical practices from, for example, and Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center. It may be that implementation just is hard, or another factor may be that many of these approaches are not written through the lens of how organizations actually would implement them."

The Ethics Center's Framework for Ethical Decision Making and AI ethics materials referenced in the Information Accountability Blog.


Luis Gomes/Pexels

Right-Wing Nonprofit Lavishes Millions on top Brass

In the last five years, the ACU, the group behind the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) poured $4 million into companies belonging to two of its directors including into firms controlled by Vice Chairman Charlie Gerow currently a candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.

Joan Harrington, an attorney who heads the social sector ethics department at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, said this raised special concerns since he was paid through the ACU Foundation, which enjoys a special tax status dependent on its abstaining from electoral campaigns.

"Everybody is intertwined and getting money from different places, and you and I cannot figure out what is going on,” Harrington said. “If it’s not transparent to the public how money is flowing to these organizations and companies, that's concerning.”

Joan Harrington, director of social sector ethics, quoted in Daily Beast.


LA Church's Jubilee Year a Chance to Face Sins of California Mission History

In this article by featured NCR columunist David DeCosse, director of religious and Catholic ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, DeCosse discusses the Jubilee Year declared to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the San Gabriel Mission and the legacy of its missionary activity.

"To be Catholic in California today is to hunger for the church to take the lead in openly facing its problematic mission past. The jubilee year in the Los Angeles Archdiocese — set to go until September 2022 — does not appear thus far to be a vehicle for such an accounting."

David DeCosse, director of religious and Catholic ethics and campus ethics programs published in the National Catholic Reporter.

Reaching Out

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, in collaboration with Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, on a project funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to improve the COVID-19 vaccination rate in disenfranchised and vulnerable communities participated in a food distribution and COVID-19 vaccination clinic. The event revealed complications in getting vaccines to those who need them most: essential and frontline workers, working parents with children, and those unsure about the vaccine's safety.

“We saw the volunteers on the ground were struggling and knew we needed to give our message in a culturally contextual way,” says Joel Dibble, the center’s senior director of news and media relations.

Read the full story in Santa Clara Magazine.

Minnetonka Apologizes to Native American Community After Decades-Long History of Cultural Appropriation

Brian Patrick Green, the director of technology ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said it is significant when offending companies publicly admit wrongdoing and take the lead when it comes to financial reparations.

“This has to be solved at the federal level, but the fact that there is a for-profit company using their own money to try and make things better is setting an expectation — which is that this is possible and that this is ultimately the right thing to do,” Green said.

Brian Green, director of technology ethics, quoted for Footwear News.


How TikTok's 'Couch guy' Video Spiraled out of Control and Became the Subject of Viral Cheating Speculation

Heider said it's important to ask TikTok what its role is when this kind of content goes viral and leads to negative attention on a subject, and that the platform could consider further raising the hood on its algorithm or limiting the spread of viral content.

The video's massive virality, further expounded by parodies that turned a recorded moment between a couple into a meme format, leads to users treating it like "popular culture" and erases the "humanity" of its subjects, Heider told Insider. 

Don Heider, chief executive of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, quoted by Insider.


Google sign

Google Search Wants to Curate big News. It Could be a Minefield

If Google launches Big Moments, it would bring the company closer to making the types of editorial decisions news publications encounter, said Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at Santa Clara University in California. In Google’s case, though, decisions are “being made algorithmically and based on the signals that are baked into the algorithms and policies.”

Irina Raicu, director of internet ethics, quoted by The Information.


How Facebook’s Response to Whistleblower Could Make Their Crisis Worse

Ann Skeet, senior director of leadership ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University said, "Zuckerberg's response reads, in part, like one from someone on a high school debate team. He's hoping to ‘win’ an argument rather than accept responsibility for the harms inflicted by his company's products.”

“[Zuckerberg] runs a company that provides service akin to those of utilities, without the counsel of a governing board, or the regulatory oversight of a public commission. Governance at its best generates new thinking about how to approach institutional challenges. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of new thinking in the company's response,” Skeet observed.

Ann Skeet, senior director of leadership ethics, quoted in Forbes.


Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

Here's how to fix the Fed's Culture of Corruption

Lacking safeguards to prevent abuse and oversight, the Federal Reserve should ban personal trading by senior officials.

It’s impossible for them to trade stocks or bonds and uphold their “special responsibility” to protect the Fed’s “integrity, dignity, and reputation.” Every trade is tantamount to an insider trade.

“That undermines and erodes the trust in the integrity of the Federal Reserve,” said John Pelissero, a senior scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

John Pelissero, senior scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, quoted by The Boston Globe.



Facebook Experiences Outage Amid Whistleblower Report

NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai spoke to Don Heider of Santa Clara University about Facebook’s six-hour outage on October 4, 2021.

"I think that there are lots of really good people who work for all the tech companies including Facebook, who are deeply concerned about what the product is doing and how it's affecting not only children, but even governments around the world. I think there are people within the company that are trying to work towards good but I think that overall there needs to be a more serious look at their algorithm and how they do business and whether or not profits have gotten out of control in terms of balancing that with protecting people."

Don Heider, executive director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, interviewed by NBC Bay Area.