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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.

    

Mass. Bill Alows Inmates to Swap Organs for Less Prison Time. Ethics Experts say it's Exploitative

The new bill would allow incarcerated individuals the option of donating their organs or bone marrow in exchange for a reduction in their sentence.

“There is a profound concern for coercion and the ability to voluntarily consent given the magnetic pull of the quid pro quo of sentence reduction,” Margaret R. McLean, senior fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California, told Yahoo News. “I worry that this is a case of ‘selling’ organs and tissues, not for dollars but for priceless freedom.”

Margaret McLean, senior fellow, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, quoted by Yahoo News.

 

African American Art and Culture Complex in San Francisco, CA. Photo by Neeta Lind, Image 3094 – African American Art & Culture Complex, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Mayor Breed’s Former Nonprofit Gets Millions From City While Flouting State Law

Joan Harrington, a nonprofits expert and a fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, called the organization’s noncompliance a “red flag."

“It’s not as if they didn’t know that the rule existed, because they tried [to file paperwork] at some point,” Harrington said. “They’re either disregarding it, or they’re dysfunctional.”

“There’s probably a question of fairness taking place here,” said John Pelissero, a senior scholar in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “I’m sure there are nonprofit organizations that have not been able to secure a city/county contract and are in good standing.”

Joan Harrington, fellow, and John Pelissero, senior scholar, government ethics, both with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, quoted by San Francisco Standard.

 

Neeta Lind, Image 3094 – African American Art & Culture Complex, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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Dying at Work: How Arizona Fails to Protect Workers on the job

Arizona’s worker-safety program is supposed to protect the welfare of 3 million employees, but a year-long investigation by The Arizona Republic has found that during Gov. Doug Ducey’s eight years in office, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health was more concerned with the growth and profitability of Arizona's companies and failed to hold them accountable for safety measures. During the same period, unannounced inspections and financial penalties plummeted.

“It strikes me as unusual that the board doesn’t have their own authority to hire their executive and then hold that person accountable,” said John Pelissero, a senior scholar in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

John Pelissero, senior scholar, government ethics, quoted by The Arizona Republic, featured in AZCentral, USA Today, and Yahoo Sports.

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Teaching in the age of AI Means Getting Creative

At Santa Clara University this month, 32 students began a course called “Artificial Intelligence and Ethics” where the usual method of assessment — writing — would no be longer in use. The course is taught by Brian Green, who also serves as a director [of technology ethics] of the university’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and in lieu of essays, he’ll be setting up one-on-one sessions with each student to hold ten-minute conversations. He said it doesn’t take any more time to evaluate that than to grade an essay.

“In that context, you really remove any possibility of text-generating software. And in talking to them, it really becomes all about whether they understand the material,” he said.

“The entire space has essentially become an arms race,” Green said, adding that anti-cheating technology remains in perpetual competition with the technology to circumvent it, as has been the case for years with plagiarism detectors like TurnItIn.

Brian Green, director, technology ethics, quoted by FiveThirtyEight.

Looking at What’s Behind Unethical Behavior
Looking at What’s Behind Unethical Behavior

The problem of unethical behavior from leadership exists in some organizations, and needs to be addressed in the hiring process.

“People in any profession and in any role face opportunities to act unethically. However, as one climbs the ladder, there are fewer people disagreeing with you and offering checks on your behavior,” Cabral says. “In general, people want to please authority figures, even if that means ignoring their own ethical standards and their supervisor’s bad behavior.”

“Ultimately, organizations that want to promote ethical behavior at all levels of the organization, including leadership, ought to address ethics systematically rather than trying to change an individual’s behavior,” Cabral states.

Sarah Cabral, senior scholar, business ethics, quoted by Communication Intelligence.

Words
18 Undeniable Traits of a Good Person

"The experts at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics state that the ability to evaluate situations with fairness is at the foundation of every free society, though each society has its own ideas about what's fair and what isn't. So, determining what's fair or unfair has a lot to do with the ethics of a given society."

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics referenced by Glam.

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A Collision of Innovation and Interests

Adrian College integrated the course-sharing platform Rize Education as a key platform to meet its course and enrollment goals, putting the school in the middle of a conflict of interest situation because Adrian’s president also co-founded Rize.

“I think if a president owns an education company, or is invested, they cannot continue to operate that and operate as chief officer of the university. I do think there is an inherent conflict of interest,” Heider said. “I know that the president has said the company is not making him any money, but it doesn’t matter—he is still representing two things, which is a private company and a private university. And that’s always going to be in conflict. The only way he can avoid it, in my view as an ethicist, is to either sell his shares in the company or put it into a blind trust so that he doesn’t know how it’s doing financially and he doesn’t have any control over it. Then he can simply focus on the task at hand, which is running the university.”

Don Heider, executive director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, quoted by Inside Higher Ed.

 

 

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A Chatbot Could Never Write This Article. Here’s Why

“If people are just using [ChatGPT] to try to surface information, the thing that’s concerning is that it can generate completely credible-, accurate-sounding bullshit,” she said. Look no further than Meta’s attempt at creating an AI for academic studies and papers—which resulted in racist, sexist, discriminatory, and fake studies.

“I keep thinking of the old Facebook slogan of move fast and break things,” Raicu said. “A lot of companies moved away from that, but now I think we're back to breaking things.”

Irina Raicu, director, internet ethics, quoted by Daily Beast.

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Some Experts, Community Residents Call for Stronger Fort Worth School Board Conflict-of-Interest Policy

A conflict of interest policy is essential to a school board operating ethically and taxpayers and parents are concerned by the history of the conflict-of-interest policy within the Fort Worth Independent School District and lack of disclosures by school officials.

Perception matters and should be taken into account in government conflicts, John Pelissero, senior scholar in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said. It’s not just about preventing conflicts, but what could look like a conflict as well.

“Because the perception of something not being proper, is as corrosive to trust that the public has in a school district board or any other local government as would be kind of the overt actions that are clearly a conflict of interest,” Pelissero said.

John Pelissero, senior scholar, quoted by Fort Worth Report.

Money
SF Paid $25 Million to Revoked, Suspended, Delinquent Nonprofits

An investigation by The San Francisco Standard has uncovered that the City of San Francisco allocated more than $25 million in taxpayer dollars to dozens of nonprofit organizations blocked by state from receiving or spending funds.

“My first reaction is that the public interest is not being served in San Francisco with the amount of money going to nonprofit organizations that don't have current licenses,” said John Pelissero, a senior scholar in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

John Pelissero, senior scholar, government ethics, quoted by The San Francisco Standard.