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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

  •  Campaign Ethics

    Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 3:03 PM

    Even before they are elected, public servants face important ethical questions about the way they run their campaigns.   How honest will they be in their campaign materials?  How can they address an electorate that is increasingly disenchanted with government?  And will campaign contributions affect the way they do business after they are elected?

    Rich Robinson, expert in strategic planning, public policy development, and government relations, and founder of Robinson Communications; and Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, addressed these and other campaign ethics questions at the most recent meeting of the Public Sector Roundtable. Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics and former mayor of the city of Santa Clara, moderated the panel.

  •  Dealing With Disaster

    Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 1:52 PM

    Kenneth Feinberg, the dispute mediator and attorney who directed the victim compesation programs after 9/11, the Boston massacre, the Sandy Hook shooting, and other disasters, talked about the importance of examining the ethical issues behind the difficult decisions he had to make at a recent talk for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

    Praising the Ethics Center for providing a forum for this exploration, Feinberg detailed some of the tough situations he confronted:  Why, for example, did the family of someone who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 get compensated, while another family, whose loved one died at the 1993 bombing at the same location not receive anything?  Should someone who was disabled in a disaster receive more or less money than the family of someone who died?  How do we understand fairness when dealing with the victims of a catastrophe? 

  •  Environmental Ethics Fellows Named

    Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 3:34 PM
    L-R: Javen Kizzart and Sulaiman Shelton

    SCU seniors Javen Kizzart and Sulaiman Shelton have been awarded 2013-14 Environmental Ethics Fellowships at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.  Both Kizzart and Shelton are environmental studies majors.  They will work on exploring ethical issues in organic farming in conjunction with SCU's organic garden, the Forge.  The Environmental Ethics Fellowship is made possible by a gift from John and Joan Casey.

  •  Business Ethics MOOC

    Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 3:10 PM

    Join 750 others registered for the Ethics Center’s free, "Massive Open Online Course," Business Ethics for the Real World, offered through  The four-week class, which can be taken any time before June 30, provides an introduction to the ethical issues confronting businesspeople.  It is appropriate for professionals, as well as undergraduate or graduate business students.
    Taught by Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson, the MOOC provides an understanding of the nature of ethics, the role ethics plays in business, and the most commonly encountered ethical dilemmas in a business career. It provides practical advice on how to identify ethical dilemmas when they arise, how to get enough information to assess one’s responsibilities, how to analyze a complex ethical choice, and how to marshal one’s own resources and courage to act ethically.
    While the course includes some ethical theory, it is designed to be approachable by the seasoned manager, the novice businessperson, and students in business schools. No specific background or preparation is necessary.  This introductory module will be followed by more advanced MOOCs beginning in 2014.
    Hanson is one of the pioneers of the business ethics field.  He holds the John Courtney Murray S.J. University Professorship of Social Ethics at SCU. In 2001, he took early retirement from Stanford University where he taught in the Graduate School of Business for 23 years and is now an emeritus faculty member.
    The editor of the four-volume series The Accountable Corporation, Hanson was the founding president of the Business Enterprise Trust, a national organization created by leaders in business, labor, media, and academia to promote exemplary behavior in business organizations.

  •  Bogeymen and Babes

    Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 4:47 PM

     Race and gender bias in science news is the focus of a presentation by Sally Lehrman, senior fellow in journalism ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, November 13.  An award-winning reporter and writer for some of the top names in national print and broadcast media, Lehrman convenes the Center's annual Executive Roundtable on Digital Journalism Ethics.

  •  Ethics is Newsworthy

    Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 4:46 PM

    Remember the days when you cut an article you didn’t understand very well out of the daily newspaper and brought it to share during “Current Events” at school?  Those days are over. 

    Newsworthy, a free daily e-newspaper produced by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, provides students and teachers with a daily compendium of news stories culled from different publications.  
    More important, Newsworthy helps students understand current events by providing a daily lesson plan for middle or secondary school teachers that “highlights the ethical issues behind the headlines,” says Steve Johnson, director of Character Education at the Ethics Center.Within a single week, students may delve into ethical issues around international diplomacy, local government, or new technology, to name a few.
    Newsworthy responds to changes in the language arts brought about by the new national core curriculum.  Under the new core, English teachers will have to add informational texts to the literature they have been teaching.  Newsworthy offers a step-by-step guide to teaching news articles while meeting the core standards.
    The program also fills a gap identified by principals when Ethics Center staff visited schools that use the Center’s popular Character-Based Literacy (CBL) Curriculum.  Tom Kostic, who writes the Newsworthy lesson plans, explains: “A lot of principals want to do something about character education, and they also want to do something useful with the time kids spend in homeroom or advisory period.  Right now, everybody just sits there.”  Newsworthy allows homeroom teachers to make better use of that time by engaging young people in a discussion about current events and the ethical issues they raise.
    Each daily plan deals with:
    ·       Outcomes
    ·       Words and Ideas
    ·       Story Comprehension
    ·       Analysis
    ·       Writing
    Teachers can use Newsworthy with any relevant course, start at any time, and fit the material as they choose into their curriculum.  For instance, a social studies instructor may center a whole period around the daily topic, or an English teacher can devote a portion of one class, while a teacher’s aide can make this the focus of study hour in between classes. 
    The material uses the techniques of the CBL Curriculum and is already in use by CBL subscribers.  Anyone can subscribe to Newsworthy free of charge.  The development of Newsworthy was supported by a grant from the Markkula Family Foundation.
  •  Is Biological Evolution Compatible With a Moral Conscience?

    Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 2:00 PM
    Francisco Ayala will speak on Biological Evolution and Moral Conscience

    November 7, 5:00 pm Learning Commons and Library, St. Clare Room

    Can we still retain a notion of moral conscience in the face of the findings and claims of evolutionary biology? What does "conscience" mean  in light of a number of crucial theoretical and practical challenges of the present day, particularly as they intersect with Catholic thought? Francisco Ayala, professor of biological sciences, ecology, and evolutionary biology, UC Irvine, presents. He is a former Dominican priest, ordained in 1960, but left the priesthood that same year. After graduating from the University of Salamanca, he moved to the US in 1961 to study for a PhD at Columbia University. There, he studied for his doctorate under Theodosius Dobzhansky, graduating in 1964. He became a US citizen in 1971.

    Ayala is known for his research on population and evolutionary genetics, and has been called the "Renaissance Man of Evolutionary Biology." His discoveries have opened up new approaches to the prevention and treatment of diseases that affect hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide, including demonstrating the reproduction of Trypanosoma cruzi, the agent of Chagas disease, is mostly the product of cloning, and that only a few clones account for most of this widespread, mostly untreatable South American disease that affects 16 million to 18 million people. He has been publicly critical of U.S. restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He currently serves on the advisory board of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, an organization that has lobbied Congress to lift federal restrictions on funding embryonic stem cell research. In 2001, Ayala was awarded the National Medal of Science.

    We are fortunate to present this program in part through the generosity of the Project on Conscience in Roman Catholic Thought, funded by Phyllis and Mike Shea.

    Co-sponsored by The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and The Commonwealth Club of California, Silicon Valley Chapter.

    Join us online for live tweeting of this event! Follow @mcaenews, #ethicsayala



  •  The Ethics of Online Price Discrimination

    Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 1:40 PM

    October 29, 2013  7 pm Wiegand Room

    In the world of online retail, some businesses are presenting different customers with different prices for the same goods, depending on factors such as the location of the customer, browsing history, etc. Some argue that this is unfair; others argue that it maximizes the efficiency of the whole system. This panel discussion will address the legal, economic, ethical, and technological aspects of the increasingly common practice of differential pricing online.


    • Eric Goldman, a Professor of Law at Santa Clara University and director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University
    • Kirthi Kalyanam, J.C. Penney Research Professor and director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University
    • Ashkan Soltani, independent researcher and affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University.

    Sponsored by The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and The High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University.

    Live Tweet With Us! Follow @mcaenews #ethicsprice

  •  Pay Czar Ethics - Disaster Fund Expert Kenneth Feinberg

    Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 3:48 PM

    Join us on Tuesday, October 22, 7 p.m.
    Music and Dance Facility, Recital Hall
    Prominent dispute mediator and attorney Kenneth Feinberg has negotiated settlements in some of the most challenging and emotional crises of our times. Feinberg was dubbed "The Pay Czar" for his hands-on administrative work in the federal bailout assistance program, TARP, and has taken on similar tasks for the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund and the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund. He is currently working out settlements for the Boston Marathon victims.
    Feinberg has served as Court-Appointed Special Settlement Master in cases including Agent Orange product liability litigation, Asbestos Personal Injury Litigation and DES Cases. Feinberg was also one of three arbitrators who determined the fair market value of the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination and was one of two arbitrators who determined the allocation of legal fees in the Holocaust slave labor litigation. He is a former Lecturer-in-Law at a number of U.S. law schools ad is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
    NEW! There will be a book sale and signing after the event at 8 p.m. for Feinberg's book, "Who Gets What: Fair Compensation After Tragedy and Upheaval." Sale price: $20
    Co-sponsored by The Markkula Center for Ethics and the Commonwealth Club of California, Silicon Valley.
    You're Invited to Tweet!
    Tweet with us on this topic before, during, and after the event at: #ethicsczar. Follow us on Twitter @mcaenews.


  •  Ethics and Marginalized Persons

    Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 8:07 AM

    With a Hackworth Research Grant from the Ethics Center, SCU Philosophy Lecturer Brian Buckley developed a new course, “Ethics and Marginalized Persons,” that addressed the importance of personhood regarding people who are disabled, poor, elderly, or gay. The class included both community-based learning and theory.

    In a reflection on a placement at Julian Street Inn, an organization that works with homeless, mentally ill people, one student showed how experiential and theoretical learning combines to impact action.

    When I go to Starbucks for a drink, the way I treat the cashier sets the example for the person behind me in line. When I cut off another driver on the freeway, it sets the example of acceptable driving behavior. Likewise, when I hold the door for a senior, it sets the example that I value them being there and have the ability to slow down for them. We have talked about re-integration, but that is not an easy task. Gough says, “each of us is a role model” (Gough 113). In light of that, the re-integration process is a mission that everyone can impact. By accepting the elderly, by treating them appropriately but without bias, by giving them respect and dignity, I am setting one small but extremely important example. Hopefully, someone will see my example and copy my behavior. It then needs to become a habit for me, and then for him or her, and as this habit spreads so too will the re-integration. It doesn’t need to be the elderly. If I treat any marginalized person as an equal, it will show. It will set an example. That example will spread. Why? We are all human.