Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education was established in 1999 to contribute to Fordham’s commitment to cultivating lifelong habits of critical thinking, moral reflection and articulate expression. Drawing upon the Jesuit traditions of sapientia et doctrina (wisdom and learning) and homines pro aliis (men and women for others) and the rich cultural diversity of New York City, the Center sponsors activities that provide students, faculty, professionals and the public with knowledge and skills to study, inform and shape a just society that nurtures the full-flourishing of all members of the human family.
In this era of increased need for ethical discourse in academic, professional, and public spheres, the Center activities draw upon theological, philosophical, scientific and other areas of inquiry to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and scholarship on moral values and ethical issues of contemporary social import. The Center embodies the University’s commitment to intellectual excellence by offering educational and research opportunities and public programming enriched through moral values, religious concerns, scientific and scholarly study, and active engagement in creating a caring and just world.
Founded as an interdisciplinary, cross-university unit, the Center sponsors national conferences, professional workshops, and ethics seminars that create synergy among scholars, scientists, religious leaders, community advocates, industry leaders and policy makers for exploring rigorously and respectfully grounds of individual and collective moral thought and action. Through its funded research programs (including the Fordham HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute) the Center provides opportunities for faculty and students to engage in empirical and theoretical study of ethical issues in health care, science, and public policy. The Center’s academic programs (including the Master’s Program in Ethics and Society, Graduate Certificate in Health Care Ethics, and the Undergraduate Minor in Bioethics) affirms the complementary roles of faith and reason drawing upon courses in theology, philosophy, social and physical science, law, economics, political science, business and other fields to provide multidisciplinary education to advance the common good.
The 21st century has been marked by a heightened concern over the ethical behavior of politicians, educators, scientists, health care organizations, and professionals. Colleges and universities are rethinking their curricula to provide education that will strengthen moral leadership and improve society worldwide. The need for ethical discourse in academic, professional, and public life has never been more urgent.
Out of such convictions, the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education was created in 1999 to promote high quality teaching, research, and service through intellectual appreciation of moral values and critical thinking about ethical practices. Following the Jesuit philosophy of homines pro aliis, men and women for others, the Center is dedicated to fostering teaching and scholarship infused with concern for the moral responsibility of persons and the moral integrity of the University’s overlapping communities of inquiry, instruction, and faith. The primary mission of the Center is to assist Fordham University in its historical commitment to the dignity of the human person and the advancement of the common good. The Center will fulfill this mission by providing a broad range of ethics education activities aimed at encouraging pedagogical, scholarly, scientific, and public practices guided by respect, fairness, and care for diverse peoples, communities, and nations.
The Center’s mission is organized around three interacting motifs concerning ethical problems and possibilities for the dawning of this new century. The interdisciplinary synergy of the Moral Responsibility, Global Ethics, and Responsible Science motifs extends Fordham University’s national and international role in finding new means for reanimating social hope and trust and creating languages to articulate the dignity of human persons across philosophical, cultural, and religious differences.
The Moral Responsibility motif organizes critical ethical dialogue on social justice, common goods, and moral responsibility grounded in both historical traditions and contemporary currents of philosophical, theological, political and human rights perspectives. Through this thematic emphasis, the Center’s activities map urgent issues of the dawning century onto thinking about individual and collective responsibilities, the roles of moral values in public discourse, and the responsibilities of citizens to conscience and to mutual respect in a democratic and pluralistic society.
The Global Ethics motif introduces a multicultural voice to the various ethical issues that face an increasingly global culture. Through this moral lens, Center activities explore how the global culture impacts traditional theological language and ethical categories, provide theological and philosophical perspectives on global issues, and promote dialogue with other religious and cultural traditions on the concepts of the moral person and the moral nation in a global community.
The Responsible Science motif introduces a conception of responsible science grounded in both personal moral agency and interpersonal understanding arrived at through moral discourse among scientists, research participants, their families, and the communities they represent. Through this thematic focus, and against the backdrop of historical abuses of government sponsored experimentation, the Center encourages examination of personal, cultural, religious, and institutional influences on moral thought and action in relationship to scientific conduct and pioneers methods of social justice to insure that vulnerable individuals have equal access to research benefits with out sacrificing their autonomy or welfare.
Through the convergence of these three thematic motifs the Center opens opportunities for scholars, scientists, religious leaders, community advocates, and policy makers for exploring rigorously and respectively grounds of individual and collective responsibilities for social and global justice and solidifies in the world-wide search for principles and strategies of transitional justice, repair, and conciliation in the wake of institutional and scientific exploitation, political violence, terror, or oppression.