In a recent editorial (Bringing ethics back, 03/31/2009) the Daily called for greater emphasis on ethics in the academic life of the University. The Center for Ethics in Public Life seeks to do just that.

Almost five years ago, noting rising public concern about unethical behavior and institutional failures in American society, University President Mary Sue Coleman created a task force of faculty, staff and students to examine ways in which the University might, according to the Center’s website, “explore the synergies of education and scholarship on the issue of ethics in public life, contributing to and in some cases structuring broader public discourse on these issues.” Recent events only increase the sense of urgency about responding to unethical behavior in professional and public life.

During its work, the task force found many programs and activities already in place that addressed these issues and identified strong foundations on which new efforts might be built. It also identified some significant needs, particularly in undergraduate education, research on ethics in public life and public discourse and outreach. The task force’s report led to a presidential initiative that culminated in the establishment last summer of the Center for Ethics in Public Life.

The Center’s mission is to ensure that ethics occupies a central place in the University’s teaching, research and public discourse. We welcome the Daily’s attention to ethics and invite members of the University community to join in finding ways to make our common goals a reality. The Center’s funding programs provide support for student projects, faculty research, course development, speakers and symposia sponsored by individuals, student organizations and other units of the University.

We are currently accepting applications for Center fellowships for undergraduates and doctoral candidates who are engaged in making ethics an important part of their academic and campus lives. We invite members of the University community to submit proposals for projects that will contribute to making ethics a more important component of learning, research and campus life.

Our website, www.ethics.umich.edu, provides detailed information on our programs, maintains a calendar of ethics-related events on campus and provides links to recent news articles and resources that address issues related to ethics in public life. We invite you to sign up for our newsletter and find ways to get involved with addressing the pressing issues of ethics in professional and public life.

John R. Chamberlin
Director of the Center for Ethics in Public Life

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