Lincoln Ethics Teaching Fellows Program
This program is designed for faculty members at ASU to develop or revise and deliver undergraduate courses that incorporate the ethical dimensions and issues of the topics or subjects in their fields. The courses must be central to the discipline and regularly scheduled offerings for majors.
The overall goal of this program is to proliferate throughout the undergraduate curriculum ethics courses within disciplines so that an integral aspect of an ASU undergraduate education will be the responsible, ethical use of the knowledge and power that study in a discipline or field imparts.
The Lincoln Ethics Teaching Fellows meet for regular workshops directed by an applied ethicist during which time each Teaching Fellow works on the development and design of the course, prepares the syllabus and other course materials, and participates in discussions about ethics in his or her field.
Since 2005 we have conducted four Lincoln Ethics Teaching Fellows Programs on the Tempe and Polytechnic campuses. The Polytechnic campus hosted a two-year program (2008-2010) that developed 16 courses and all of the developed courses are regularly offered on that campus. In Fall 2011 the program was conducted at ASU West with 8 Lincoln Teaching Fellows under the direction of Lincoln Professor Martin Matustik. The 2013 program will be led by Lincoln Fellow for Ethics Education Zachary J. Goldberg.
2013 Lincoln Teaching Fellows Cohort and Courses
Taught by Lincoln Fellow Zachary Goldberg
1) Elizabeth Horan, ENG 394, The Nobel Prize, has been taught in the Fall semester only, about six times as an undergraduate special topics course at the 300 and 400 level. It is very popular as it is a contemporary world literature course that asks students to consider questions of aesthetics, politics, and values. Students are especially encouraged to question and articulate their own standards of taste and to justify them in the context of larger questions about the recognition and rewarding of literary excellence (or, to use the terms of Alfred Nobel's will, "the outstanding"). Male undergraduate students in particular are drawn by the opportunity to "game," as the first major writing assignment asks students to predict the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The second major writing assignment asks student to indicate who should win the Nobel Prize in Literature at some time in the near future, or, for those students are more willing or able or widely read, who should win the Nobel Lit Prize within the next 30 years. We study the systems and mechanisms of literary and cultural prizes, considering questions of question, the predictive value of other prizes, and, in general, whether and how "excellence" can be determined and rewarded for living authors who represent particular nations, language groups, and ideologies.
2) Shavawn M. Berry & Julianne White, English 302 – Business Writing; How Ethics Should Be Applied to All Aspects of Business: Business writing is a course that focuses on clarity, brevity, and professionalism in Business communications. All genres from memos to reports to proposals are centered around these three cornerstones. Adding a fourth element – business ethics – to the curriculum would add depth to the course and allow students to experience and examine real world scenarios in which ethics, or the lack of ethics, played an important role. From Wall Street to Main Street, ethics are sadly lacking in demonstrable behaviors with (predictably) catastrophic results. Some of the ways that we plan to incorporate ethics into this course would be through case studies, nonfiction texts covering the impact of ethical decisions not made or overlooked, and business journal headlines and stories impacting the current global and American business climates.
3) Wim Vermaas, The MBB 490 course is for seniors in the MBB (Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology) program, with an annual enrollment of about 40. MBB 490 is half of the capstone experience, and focuses on biotechnology in the light of commercialization, sustainability, policy, regulations and ethics; scientific writing is included as well. These are areas that really do not get covered much in other courses in the MBB (or biology) curriculum, but sooner or later many students in this class will benefit from having had exposure in this area. Ethics coverage has been mostly focused on how different parts of the world look at risk associated with new biotechnologies (precautionary principle vs. “proactionary principle”), the food vs. fuel debate for biofuels, dual use of biotechnology, the role and responsibility of biotechnology scientists in the Anthropocene, and synthetic biology (the potential to create new forms of life).
4) Sara Pennak, Psychology: “Scandals, Lies and Torture: Research Ethics in the Behavioral Sciences” provides a historical and current review of behavioral research practices and examines the advancement of human and animal subjects protection through legislative acts and codes of ethics. This course also presents research misconduct issues such as plagiarism, data falsification and fraud. A case study approach is used for discussing watershed events and research experiments that changed the behavioral sciences.
5) Richard Newhauser; English 315: “Medieval Literature in Translation: Sins and Sinners in Western Culture” is devoted to the history, practical applications, and cultural implications of an ethical system of great longevity in the West: the seven deadly sins (pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth). Arranged historically, the syllabus of the course begins with a general examination of the concept of sin and its potential uses in psychology, anthropology, and (broadly speaking) cultural studies. Both academic discourse and the popular imagination are important for the material of the course, but since this is a class in medieval literature, texts written during the Middle Ages are emphasized in the first part of the semester. What it meant to sin is investigated in a number of contexts: The origin of the capital vices in the late fourth century, CE, is investigated as a development of monastic psychology; the function of the list of sins as representations of power in aristocratic culture in the Middle Ages is examined next; then the analysis of the capital vices in Scholastic discourse is studied; followed by the application of the vices in the consciousness of bourgeois interiority revealed in the sacrament of confession. The topical arrangement of the course then turns to modern contexts: the potential for the ambiguity of good and evil in ethical analysis, the justification of profit making in capitalism; changing representations of the sins that are aligned with changing perceptions of class and gender differences; among other issues. Interspersed with all of these units in the syllabus are closer examinations of the individual sins that are variously emphasized in various contexts: for example, sloth as a spiritual temptation among the early monks, but then re-analyzed as unproductive laziness in early capitalism; gluttony as a problem of inebriation in early urban space, but now more a marker of an unhealthy corporeality. The rethinking of the sins in modern analyses leads to the final assignment of the course: determining what should be added to the list of sins today.
6) Juergen Gadau, SoLS: Animal Behavior and Organic Evolution:
This course concerns evolutionary history and physiological/morphological adaptations. However, it is both important and interesting for the students to learn more about cultural evolution and the impact evolutionary theory has on moral/ethics. Human behavior is strongly influenced by moral and ethics and hence if we want to fully understand human behavior we need to understand the evolutionary roots and consequences of our morals and ethics.
Measure of Success:
The journal Teaching Ethics has archived our contributions (11.2, Fall 2011) at http://www.uvu.edu/ethics/seac/
These articles stand as evidence of the success of the Teaching Fellows program.