Davis Ethics Award honors top ethics-related dissertation in communications

May 19, 2020

A dissertation by a graduate of the University of Oklahoma (OU) earned this year’s Penn State Davis Ethics Award, which annually recognizes the best ethics-related dissertation successfully defended in the fields of communication and media as part of a national competition.

Philip A. Stauffer Todd of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at OU earned the award for his dissertation titled “War – What Is It Good For? Applying a Millian Security Principles Protocol to New York Times Coverage of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.” The publication synthesizes the uses of John Stuart Mill’s theory of utilitarianism in both media ethics and military ethics scholarship. It then offers five specific “Millian Security Principles” with which to assess both military justifications for war and war coverage by journalists, and presents a critique of the Times’ coverage of the Iraq campaign. Todd is an instructor of mass communication and adviser to the student newspaper at Oklahoma City University.

“Phil’s scholarship breathes new life into a highly contested and often oversimplified political philosophy, and suggests a useful method to assess journalistic practice when it comes to matters of war,” said Patrick Lee Plaisance, the Don W. Davis Professor of Ethics at Penn State.

The Davis Award provides a $1,000 honorarium and a fully supported future guest-lecture visit to the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State. Todd also will be invited to give a virtual presentation based on his dissertation by the Media Ethics Division at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in August.

  • Philip A. Stauffer Todd

    Philip A. Stauffer Todd

    IMAGE: Image Provided
Last Updated May 19, 2020