Faculty to infuse courses with ethical dimension

April 21, 2009

University Park, Pa. — The Rock Ethics Institute in Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts selected 11 faculty members to participate in the 2009 Ethics Seminar for Faculty. The seminar supports research and teaching designed to promote ethical awareness and inquiry.

Nancy Tuana, director of the REI, notes, "The seminar will create an interdisciplinary environment for faculty to discuss current ethics research, enhance their ethical literacy, and improve skills and techniques for integrating ethical analysis into the classroom. Fellows can share ideas as they each develop their curriculum for their classes."

The Ethics Seminar will provide Honors Faculty with the resources they need to develop and integrate a significant ethics dimension into their courses. The workshop will offer resources and strategies for integrating ethics into courses and encourage faculty to include concepts, case studies, and other course materials in three areas: academic integrity, professional ethics, and social responsibility. The seminar will emphasize analyses of pressing social and global problems and will offer resources for developing ethical leadership skills.

Participants will attend an intensive workshop in the summer of 2009 and a series of ethics seminars in the 2009-2010 academic year designed to assist faculty develop or redesign an Honors course with an ethical emphasis.

2009 Faculty Seminar Fellows

-- Sarah Ades, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, will integrate ethics into her Introduction to Microbiology course. "Pairing lectures on scientific material with discussions of the impact those areas of microbiology have on society, particularly with respect to ethical issues related to public health, can bring the material to life and allow students to see the connections between science and society," she notes.

-- Ingrid Blood, professor of communication sciences and disorders, will focus on her Genetics and Communication Sciences and Disorders course. "Students should be able to recognize philosophical, cultural, and ethical perspectives influencing utilization of genetic information and services and appreciate the sensitivity of genetic information, and the need for privacy and confidentiality," she adds.

-- Tina Chen, associate professor of English and Asian studies, plans ethics content for her upper-level English course, Fantasy and Phantasms in Ethnic American Literature. "The course introduces students to comparative Ethic American literatures, focusing especially on the trope of ghostliness ... [which] in this body of literature often manifests itself as a kind of ethical imperative, a caution about what history tends to forget, what readers need to remember in the study of Otherness, and what it means to acquire knowledge ethically," she notes.

-- Grace Delgado, assistant professor of history, will integrate ethics into her upper-level course on U.S. and Latin America relations. "I hope to explore how Latin Americans (specifically workers, peasants, and women) pose ethical and moral questions about the consequences of Neoliberalism and free trade. I would also like to examine the ethical dimension as it related to authorized migration," she explains.

-- Lori Hepner, assistant professor of integrative arts at Penn State Greater Allegheny, will target her 100-level course Introduction to Photography. "The incorporation of ethics into Photo 100 is something that I have already briefly started to address to students by way of discussion on image copyright and of digital manipulation of images in the press. I am interested in expanding the discussion to include how to be an ethical consumer of images in a Web 2.0 society ... and of the ethics involved in the field by professional photojournalists and the stories that they cover. "

-- Zaryab Iqbal, assistant professor of political science, will blend ethics into her political science course Tyranny and Genocide. "Tens of millions of people were killed by tyrannical regimes in the twentieth century, through genocides, massacres, ethnic cleansings, and other crimes against humanity.…a major goal of this course is to examine the ethical questions surrounding indiscriminate use of force against civilians in violent conflicts, and to incorporate those ethical considerations into policy prescriptions for managing and resolving conflicts," she notes.

-- Vera Mark, assistant professor of French, Francophone Studies, and Linguistics, will pose ethics questions in her War and Violence course. "What is war? What role does it play in the formation of national identity? How is war experienced by men and women? What kinds of conflicts cause and result from war? How is justice understood, in the immediate aftermath of war, and in years later, as a memory practice?," she notes.

-- Christopher Reed, associate professor of English and visual culture, is integrating ethics into his course English course on Bloomsbury. He adds, "I am looking for ways a teacher can, without imposing my own belief systems, frame discussions about ethics so that students can explore and critique their own beliefs in relation to historical models such as the Bloomsbury group."

--Rachel Smith, assistant professor of communication arts and sciences, will ask questions about ethics for her upper and graduate courses on Global Health Campaigns. "Does the 'public good' win out over individual autonomy? How do we ensure informed consent in international contexts? Can we "do no harm" with health messages in international contexts? What if health campaigns influence heath issues at the cost of influencing a community's culture?", she points out.

--Andrea Tapia, assistant professor of information sciences and technology, will be integrating ethics into her IST course, Honors Globalization Trends and World Issues. "This course is intended to expose students to messy, complex and difficult international policy issues. Most of these issues involve aspects of globalization, technology and work, she adds.

--Kevin Thomas, assistant professor of African and African American studies, sociology, and demography, bring these questions to his upper-level course Racial and Ethnic Inequality in the U.S. "First, students' understanding of affirmative action and the debates associated with its policies can be enhanced by a juxtaposition of its ideals with the principles of distributive justice. Insights from relational ethics can also be used to highlight how the experiences of those affected by historical and contemporary patterns of inequality can inform our understanding of racial inequalities," he notes. "This is particularly important in the analysis of how the history of voting rights affected the evolution of power relationships between minority and majority populations."

For more information, visit the Seminar's homepage on the Rock Ethic Institute's webpage at: http://rockethics.psu.edu/research_grants/faculty/index.shtml

Last Updated May 19, 2016