Ethics education became an integral part of most U.S. institutions of higher education between 1980 and 2015. Growth can be seen in institutional messaging, number of courses in ethics offered throughout the graduate and undergraduate curricula, national recognition of degrees and certificates granted in ethics by the federal National Center for Educational Statistics, creation of campus-wide ethics centers and co-curricular initiatives, and an explosion of peer-reviewed journals in the intersection of disciplinary areas and ethics. Yet, much research is yet to be done. Connections between ethics education and students’ civic and moral development remain unclear. The impact of ethics education remains unknown. There is no consensus on what counts as effective ethics education. Student voices are largely absent from discussions on the topic. And conversations relating to curricular and co-curricular ethics education continue to be divorced from analysis of the ethical implications of institutional choices.
- Ethics education
- Moral education
- Higher education
- Moral development
- Institutional ethics
- Education ethics
- Student ethics
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Along with multiple presentations at academic conferences, in 1980, the team published a book of collected essays, Ethics Teaching in Higher Education (Daniel Callahan and Sissela Bok, editors), and nine monographs on the teaching of ethics, The Teaching of Ethics in Higher Education (by The Hastings Center), Legal Ethics and Legal Education (by Michael J. Kelly), Teaching Ethics in Journalism Education (by Clifford G. Christians and Catherine L. Covert), Teaching Bioethics: Strategies, Problems, and Resources (by K. Danner Clouser), Ethics in the Education of Business Managers (by Charles W. Powers and David Vogel), The Teaching of Ethics and the Social Sciences (by Donald P. Warwick), Ethics and Engineering Curricula (by Robert J. Baum), Ethical Dilemmas and the Education of Policymakers (by Joel L. Fleishman and Bruce L. Payne) and Ethics in the Undergraduate Curriculum (by Bernard Rosen and Arthur L. Caplan).
The Hastings Center study included a systematic survey of literature on the teaching of ethics in American higher education, review of 2000 college catalogs, consultations with more than 1000 teachers of ethics, a summer workshop for 150 participants, using a grounded theory approach to identify common practices and patterns along with problems and issues in ethics education.
Keywords used to search descriptors for journals and articles include “higher education” combined with “ethics” or “ethical” or “moral” in the journal or article title, subject word, or description. Initial search results were then manually culled to include only academic articles (not book reviews, for example) that addressed topics related to ethics education in higher education.
See Sloan (1980), for a summary of literature in ethics education prior to 1980.
Artifacts that could have reasonably been coded in more than one category were placed in a primary category based on title, abstract or other determination early in the article of major focus. Two researchers independently categorized journals and articles in our study, with disagreements discussed and consensus achieved.
See Steneck (1994).
See Scriven (1982).
See Thompson (2006).
See Camenisch (1986).
See Tsei (2002).
See Rhoads (1997).
See Meyhew (2012).
See Magolda and Abowitz (1997).
See Lee and Taylor (2013).
While we believe that we captured most of the journals that publish articles in practical ethics, moral education or moral development, no one database seems to have captured all peer-reviewed journals that belong in our study. InCites Journal Citation Reports (JCR) was chosen as a recognized source analyzing citation references within 11,000 + indexed journals including “nearly” 250 disciplines. Ulrichs Web is recognized among librarians as the premier periodical indexing system with more than 300,000 periodicals.
See especially Keenan (2015).
Schools that developed a campus-wide QEP based on ethics include Barry University, Campbellsville University, Carson-Newman College, Eastern Kentucky University, Georgia Military College, Hardin-Simmons University, James Madison University, Marymount University, Oakwood University, St. Philip’s College, Texas Tech University, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute, Webber International University, William Peace University.
See for example, The University of Montana, which introduced the general education requirement, Ethics and Human Values in 1975 and continues through the time of this writing. Thirty courses are listed as providing general education credits in this area including the intriguingly-named literature course, “Placebos: The Power of Words”.
See for example Arizona State University (multiple campuses), Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Epic Bible College, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Kennesaw State University, Loma Linda University, New England College of Business and Finance, Northwestern University, Oral Roberts University, Smith College, Utah Valley University, University of Maryland (multiple campuses), Western Michigan University, and Yeshiva University.
In some of the 1980 Hastings Center publications, the term used here is “reduce” rather than “resist”.
See, for example, the AACU LEAP VALUE rubric for Ethical Reasoning.
The study found at 15% of the centers examined were established in the 1970s, 14% in the 1980s, 32% in the 1990s and 39% between 2001 and 2010.
The annual national survey of student engagements (NSSE) examines student self-reports on “items that represent outcomes that characterize interpersonally effective, ethically grounded, socially responsible, and civic minded individuals” (Kuh 2003).
See Keenan (2015).
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By Deni Elliott and Karlana June with thanks for research assistance and feedback from National Ethics Project co-investigators Jess Miner and Anne Newman. This chapter was produced in part from research funded by the Spencer Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Elliott, D., June, K. (2018). The Evolution of Ethics Education 1980–2015. In: Englehardt, E., Pritchard, M. (eds) Ethics Across the Curriculum—Pedagogical Perspectives. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-78939-2_2
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