Ethics Faculty Lead New Initiative
Interdisciplinary Ethics Institute, Building On Tradition Of Honor
At Mr. Jefferson's University
17, 2000 -- Questions of ethics are all around us
-- at the bank, in the doctor's office, in court, at building sites,
in corporate boardrooms, on job interviews, and in the classroom.
We make ethical decisions every day, some split-second, some measured.
These decisions on ethical issues large and small -- ending a life,
returning small change -- are the building blocks of our characters
and our lives. They make us who, in public, we seem to be and who,
alone at night, we know we are.
is at the heart of an individual's character and a university's
purpose. At the University of Virginia, ethical values were at the
core of the institutions founding, and honor and ethical discourse
have remained central to its mission and traditions.
Friday, Nov. 17, University President John T. Casteen III will establish
the Institute for Practical Ethics to serve as the intellectual
home for professors and students pursing interdisciplinary research,
scholarship and teaching on ethical issues. It also will reach out
across the University to support the creation of new programs in
practical ethics and explore ways in which the study of ethics can
be integrated into the existing curricula for undergraduate, graduate
and professional studies.
University of Virginia has a remarkable group of faculty who are
renowned in the field of applied ethics," said Casteen. "The creation
of this Institute brings them together in an innovative way that
will establish the University as an international leader in ethics.
Our goal is to make ethics an integral part of both the undergraduate
and graduate experiences so that it permeates living and learning
for all our students."
an announcement of new gifts totaling more than $600,000 and a strong
commitment from faculty members from every school, Casteen will
formally establish the Institute to foster creative programs in
practical ethics that bridge real-world experience and scholarly
new gifts are earmarked to establish a University Chair in ethics
and to support two new educational projects an interdisciplinary
class for undergraduates on environmental decision-making and interdisciplinary
seminars on values for graduate students in law, medicine, business
and the arts and sciences.
Allen Hollingsworth of Coronado, Calif., a member of the Universitys
Class of 1951, has pledged $500,000 in honor of his 50th
class reunion in May 2001 to create the professorship in ethics.
The new environmental decision-making course and professional values
seminars will be funded by gifts from the Greenwich, Conn.-based
Richard D. Donchian Foundation, which provided a $500,000 grant
in 1998 to fund student internships, courses and lectures in practical
Donchian Foundation grants are designed to help develop University-wide
programs in practical ethics focusing on actual ethical issues
that arise in professional and public life that can serve
as a national model for institutions of higher education.
line with U.Va.s Jeffersonian tradition, the Institutes
programs will enable faculty, students and alumni to connect the
life of the mind with public and professional life in new and exciting
ways," said James Childress, the Edwin B. Kyle Professor of
Religious Studies and Professor of Medical Education, who also serves
as director of the Institute. "Interdisciplinary faculty working
groups will be exploring new educational and research initiatives
in partnership with professionals working in the field."
Institute for Practical Ethics grew from a faculty working group
brought together by Childress in 1996 to promote interdisciplinary
discussions of ethical issues, collaborative research and team teaching.
working group, which has evolved into a 16-member faculty advisory
board for the new Institute, is something of a Who's Who in Ethics
in America. Along with Childress, they include John D. Arras, the
H. William Porterfield, M.D., and Linda Obenauf Porterfield Professor
of Biomedical Ethics; R. Edward Freeman, the Elis and Signe Olsson
Professor of Business Administration and director of the Olsson
Center for Applied Ethics; Jonathan D. Moreno, director of the Center
for Biomedical Ethics; and Patricia N. Werhane, the Ruffin Professor
of Business Ethics.
faculty advisors include Ruth Gaare Bernheim, executive director
of the Institute; Timothy Beatley, associate professor of architecture;
Richard J. Bonnie, the John S. Battle Professor of Law and director
of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy; David W.
Breneman, dean of the Curry School of Education; Brad Brown, associate
professor of commerce; Jonathan Z. Cannon, director of the Center
for Environmental Studies; Michael E. Gorman, professor of technology
culture and communication; Ann B. Hamric, associate professor of
nursing; John C. Jeffries Jr., Emerson G. Spies Professor of Law
and the William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished
Professor of Law; Margaret E. Mohrman, author, pediatrician and
co-director of the medical school's Spirituality and Medicine Curriculum;
and Michael Joseph Smith, Thomas C. Sorensen Professor of Political
and Social Thought and associate professor of government and foreign
addition to its own programs, the Institute will work in collaboration
with the University of Virginia's other major ethics initiatives,
some of which have been in operation for decades.
include the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics at the Darden School,
which was established in 1966; the Institute of Law, Psychiatry
and Public Policy, established in 1977, and the Center for Environmental
Studies, established in 1999, both at the School of Law; and the
Center for Biomedical Ethics at the School of Medicine, established
U.Va. initiatives in the field of ethics include a $1 million grant
from the Elis Olsson Memorial Foundation in 1996 that was divided
among the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics at the Darden School,
the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering and Applied
Science to fund endowed chairs in ethics and related programs.
new Institute for Practical Ethics plans to draw on the rich resources
and strong tradition of ethical thinking at the University of Virginia.
The Institutes goal is to encourage reflection on the complex
ethical issues that pervade contemporary life and to offer insights
that can help address the problems.
Institute builds on the strong ethical foundation laid by Thomas
Jefferson," said Ruth Gaare Bernheim, executive director of the
Institute for Practical Ethics. "Along with supporting prominent
scholars and promoting interdisciplinary research, it will help
us demonstrate the relevance of Jefferson's values in our increasingly
complex world and will add depth to the Honor Code that guides our
students as they address ethical questions throughout their personal
and professional lives."
Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858