Rock Ethics Institute plans include K-12 outreach, lecture series in 2014-15

September 24, 2014

The Rock Ethics Institute remains committed to introducing and supporting ethics education at Penn State and beyond. During the 2014-15 academic year the Institute is implementing a diverse range of ethics education initiatives designed for children, graduate students, researchers and professionals.

During the 2014-15 academic year Michael D. Burroughs, assistant director of the Rock Ethics Institute, will lead weekly philosophy and ethics discussion sessions with three kindergarten classes at Park Forest Elementary in the State College Area School District. Burroughs is an experienced practitioner of "Philosophy for Children" and has led philosophy and ethics programming in K-12 classrooms for more than a decade. 

At Park Forest Elementary, Burroughs (along with graduate students Desiree Valentine and Tugce Tuncdemir) will explore moral literacy and related ethical themes with children through discussion of children’s literature (e.g., "The Giving Tree," "Frederick," and "Frog and Toad Are Friends") and artwork. Along with these sessions, Burroughs is working with Penn State educational psychology faculty to explore research on the impact of ethics and dialogical education on young children.

Newly developed ethics education programming will complement the Institute’s focus on K-12 moral literacy.

In partnership with Richard Duschl, Kenneth B. Waterbury Chaired professor in secondary education, the Institute is organizing the Waterbury Lecture Series on Moral Development. Through this lecture series, they will generate discussion on the nascent cognitive and social skills in early childhood that build out pathways for both ethical and epistemic reasoning and decision-making, as well as models of ethics education and learning that are best suited to productively meet and advance these developmental pathways. The 2014 Fall Semester Waterbury Lecture will be delivered by Judith Smetana, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. Smetana is a leading researcher on children’s development of morality and moral reasoning, co-editor of the "Handbook of Moral Development," and author of numerous books and articles.

The 2015 spring semester Waterbury Lecture will be delivered by Larry Nucci, professor, Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Nucci is an expert in moral education and child development. He has edited and authored a number of books on these topics, including "Education in the Moral Domain," "Nice is Not Enough: Facilitating Moral Development" and "Handbook of Moral and Character Education," of which he was co-editor.

The Institute is expanding its collaboration with the Penn State College of Education through the newly formed Ethics and Education Interest Group. Organized by Burroughs, the Ethics and Education Interest Group is dedicated to creating an interdisciplinary community for faculty and graduate students interested in discussing and researching issues at the intersection of ethics and education. Areas of interest for the group include: ethics, education, and marginalized populations; ethics and educational policy; pedagogy and interpersonal ethics in the classroom; moral development and models of ethics education; and ethical leadership and the ethical implementation of educational programming.

Going forward, the hope is that the group will give rise to additional opportunities to advance consideration of issues in ethics and education at Penn State, including shared research projects, the creation of conferences and lecture series on issues in ethics and education, and potential outreach or publicly engaged ethics and education projects.

  • Ethics Education Icon for the Rock Ethics Institute
    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated May 19, 2016