Ethics center director takes message to universities in India
March 26, 2014
Six years after the
Center for Applied Ethics was founded, ethics in education is more than a
buzzword to students, faculty and staff at University of Wisconsin-Stout. It
has become part of campus culture.
take a new 12-credit certificate program in applied ethics. Students in all
disciplines discuss ethics, including in general education and other classes.
Faculty and staff have access to Center for Applied Ethics resources, including
workshops, speakers and research.
"We're very lucky to
have what we have here," said Elizabeth Buchanan, director of the center.
reminded of just how much progress has been made at UW-Stout while on a recent
trip to India, where she was invited to speak at two universities.
India has not fully addressed ethical issues in its
education system in the wake of rapid technological progress, she said.
"The education system in India is very different. Technology
students have very few electives and don't have an opportunity for general
education or to take ethics," Buchanan said.
"These institutions were really interested in what I do at
UW-Stout and how I do it. People understand the
importance of ethics, but in technology
focus primarily on technical skills and not ethical theories or
Buchanan was keynote speaker in Bhubaneshwar, India, at
Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology at the 10th annual International
Conference on Distributed Computing and Internet Technology. She lectured on ethics
related to robotics and artificial intelligence and on additional ways to
infuse ethics education into the high-tech curricula of KIIT.
Like UW-Stout, Wisconsin's Polytechnic University, KIIT is a
polytechnic whose mission includes cultivating ethics, morality and healthy
practices in professional lives. KIIT is a top-ranked private institution in
To some students in India, the concept of ethics as Buchanan
explained it was truly foreign, but Buchanan made her points. After she spoke,
one student astutely understood ethics to mean that "I may be good, but if I'm
not ethical I'm not respected."
Historically, ethical behavior has been an important part of
life in India, but "India as a society is moving further away from ethics being
embedded in the culture," Buchanan said. "Technology and development have come so
quickly that fundamental social,
ethical and cultural issues have not been addressed."
From Bhubaneshwar, Buchanan went to the high-tech city of
Hyderabad and the University of Hyderabad, a premier Indian institution of
postgraduate teaching and research.
She delivered the university's prestigious Distinguished
Lecture, focusing on research on ethics pedagogy and challenges facing computer
professionals in a globally connected, diverse work force. The research was
funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted at UW-Stout.
Buchanan found attentive audiences at both universities.
"People were excited to talk about ethics," she said.
After leaving India, Buchanan stopped at Dublin City
University in Dublin, Ireland, to discuss research ethics in a European
Union-funded project focusing on Internet extremism. She serves on the Ethics
Advisory Board to the project.
In all, Buchanan gave five presentations and met with
students and faculty at the universities.
Center founded in 2008
The UW-Stout Center for Applied Ethics was founded in 2008
with the support of a donation to the Stout University Foundation by anonymous
donors. The center serves as a campuswide resource, with the mission of
infusing ethics into all aspects of the UW-Stout experience, including
research, teaching and service.
In 2012 and 2013, the center worked with university staff to
include ethics in revised general education requirements.
This spring, the 12-credit undergraduate Certificate in Applied Ethics, developed by the center, is being offered for the first time.
"We're doing a big push with undergraduates to work with
different programs on campus. We want them to think about ethical issues in
their discipline or in their profession," Buchanan said. "Students are ready.
They understand these issues."
The Ethics Center Scholars Program is in its second year, in
cooperation with the College of Health, Education and Human Sciences. Professor
Robert Salt and Associate Professor Markie Blumer conduct research with the
center and work with faculty and departments across campus.
Buchanan lectures and presents on campus, facilitates workshops
and speaks often around the state and country. In late April, she will speak on
moral development at the annual Early Childhood Education Conference at UW-Stout.
The Center for Applied Ethics is in room 430 of the Robert
S. Swanson Library and Learning Center. For more information, contact Buchanan.