2009 and 2010 Colloquia

Outreach, Consultation and Survival in Economic Hard Times, 2010
Succession Planning for Ethics Centers, 2009

Association for Practical and Professional Ethics

Introduction, Brian Schrag, Executive Director

The Association for Practical and Professional Ethics eighteenth annual Ethics Center Colloquium was convened by Aine Donovan, Executive Director of Dartmouth College’s Institute for the Study of Applied and Professional Ethics. This year’s 2010 colloquium “Outreach, Consultation and Survival in Hard Economic Times,” was developed to help center directors think about developing programs that might help ethics centers weather the challenging economic conditions currently facing colleges and universities. This monograph includes essays from presentations at the Colloquium. It also includes an important essay by David Smith on succession planning, drawn from the previous 2009 Ethics Center Colloquium, “Succession Planning for Ethics Centers.”

I want especially to acknowledge Glenda Murray for her extraordinary efforts at shepherding these essays into print.

Jan Boxill, Director of the Parr Center for Ethics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, demonstrates beautifully the value of collaborative work in ethics programming on a university campus in her essay, “Staying Afloat: Collaboration is the Key.” Collaboration with faculty and students on one’s own campus as well as nearby universities and other community resources can yield a rich source of talent for ethics programs at relatively low cost. Equally important, in an environment of tremendous competition for the attention and time of students and faculty, collaboration can help in identifying the priority of ethical needs and interests in particular ethical issues and programming. This sort of collaboration can be an effective way of penetrating the self-absorbed and solipsistic “silos” of departments and programs on campus and in the broader community.. The net result of such collaboration is a powerful way of building campus-wide and community-wide ownership in the ethics center. That sense of ownership can be invaluable in times of economic stress on campus. An important idea in Boxill’s essay is that a precondition of effective collaboration is the need to formalize the structure at the ethics center to systematize collaboration with students and faculty. In the case of the Parr center, this is accomplished through the development of a large group of faculty and graduate student fellows.

In his essay, “Beware of What You Wish for… for It Will Surely Be Yours” Noah Pickus, Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, offers a cautionary tale for ethics centers which seek to develop practical outreach programs for external communities that generate resources for the center. In the case of the Keenan Institute, it involved business ethics in such areas as hospitality, real estate, media, insurance, as well as the university itself. In character education it involved the public schools. In both these areas the Keenan Institute did succeed in impacting the communities, generating income and providing the Institute with valuable insights. Even so, Pickus details three concerns which led them to radically revise their Institute program objectives and activity. These included: 1) concerns about efficacy and the ethics of what they were providing external communities, 2) The costs of maintaining and growing the programs, and 3) The impact of the programs on a robust research agenda for the Institute. Pinkus then describes how this led to a more appropriate form of engagement between the Institute and external communities.

David Ozar, in “Thirteen Years of Lessons about Creating Ethics Center Revenue by Selling Ethics Education and Consulting Services,” provides a detailed account of one ethic center’s effort to fund its operating budget primarily by providing outreach services in ethics consultation and education. Ozar offers some very practical cautions and advice regarding the internal university administrative challenges one might encounter in that effort. He provides important suggestions on developing collaborators both within and outside the university to carry out programs and practical advice on how actually to develop and market services. Ozar shares insights and cautions about the relation of a center’s mission to the marketing of ethics consulting and education. He closes with some important cautions about ensuring (and not taking for granted) that the center’s importance and mission is understood and not lost by the inevitable succession of university administrators.

The excellent essay “Starting and Structuring an Online Ethics Center” by Shlomo Sher, Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, University of Southern California, addresses a narrower focus–outreach by means of an online ethics resources center. Sher emphasizes the importance of clarity regarding an ethics center or institute’s mission and its relation to the mission of an online resource center. He discusses the importance of identifying the target audience of an online resource center and the expected benefits to that target population. He raises considerations of the relative benefits from creating one’s own online ethics center versus using an already existing online ethics resource center. This includes the important issue of maintaining control over presentation of resources and its impact on motivating use by one’s audience.. He provides a very useful discussion of selecting content, organization and presentation for an online ethics center, as well a topic not often discussed, motivating use of the center.

David Smith, Director, Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, Yale University, in his extremely wise essay, “Succession Planning for Ethics Centers” draws on his rich experience as an ethics center director at two different institutions to discuss the challenges of succession for directors of ethics centers. He considers this challenge from the vantage point of the exiting director and that of the successor as well as the issue of selecting a new director. He discusses the importance of preparing to leave, the actual leave-taking and the issue of selecting a successor. Smith concludes with some very helpful observations on getting started as a new director, including how to negotiate some of the minefields in such an activity.

Table of Contents
“Staying Afloat: Collaboration is the Key”
Jan Boxill, Director, Parr Center for Ethics, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“Beware of What You Wish For…For It Will Surely Be Yours”
Noel Pickus, Director, Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University

“Thirteen Years of Lessons About Creating Ethics Center Revenue by Selling Ethics Education and Consulting Services”
David Ozar, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Former Director, Center for Ethics, Loyola University Chicago

“Starting and Structuring an Online Ethics Resource Center”
Shlomo Sher, Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

“Succession Planning for Ethics Centers”
David H. Smith, Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, Yale University