Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

[Revised 11/9/12]

Contest for SCU Students: Build an Ethical Decision-Making App!

PRIZE: $500

Build an engaging mobile app (either Android, iOS, Windows, or web-based) using content from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics website, incorporating the "Framework for Ethical Decision Making".

  • From "A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making":

  • "Making good ethical decisions requires a trained sensitivity to ethical issues and a practiced method for exploring the ethical aspects of a decision … The more novel and difficult the ethical choice we face, the more we need to rely on discussion and dialogue with others about the dilemma. Only by careful exploration of the problem, aided by the insights and different perspectives of others, can we make good ethical choices in such situations. We have found [this] framework for ethical decision making a useful method for exploring ethical dilemmas and identifying ethical courses of action."

Reviewing the Framework should help you determine what your app might do. One version might simply walk users through the various steps that take one from recognizing an ethical issue to acting and reflecting on the outcome of the action, with links to more information about the five sources of ethical standards (also available on the Center's website), details about what ethics is (and is not), etc. Another might embed the decision-making questions within each of the different approaches—the utilitarian approach, the rights approach, etc.. Or it might turn the whole Framework into a game! It's up to you to decide how to get this information to the users most effectively, and how to take them through the steps of the decision-making process, in a useful and engaging way.

If you have questions, please email

General Terms:

By entering this contest, you explicitly agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

The sponsor and promoter of this contest is the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

This contest is open to all students enrolled in Santa Clara University during the 2012-2013 academic year. Eligible contestants may team up and enter the contest with team submissions.

You must submit your entry between March 15, 2013 and April 5, 2013. Keep in mind, however, that quality apps take some time to build; please start planning and working on yours well ahead of the submission window! Entries received after April 5, 2013 will not be eligible to win. We are not responsible for entries that are sent but not received; if you don't receive an email reply within 5 days of your submission confirming that we have received your entry, please follow up by calling us at (408) 554-5319.

Submission Requirements/Rules:

Submissions must meet the following requirements:

  1. Content of submission: Submissions must include 1) access to the application, 2) a detailed description of the application, 3) instructions on how to install and operate the application, 4) system requirements necessary to run the application, and 5) contact information (name, phone number, and SCU year and major) for each Contestant (each individual member for team entries).
  2. Acceptable platforms: The app must be designed for a mobile handheld device (preferably on multiple platforms).
  3. Deadline: The Submission must be available for evaluation by April 5, 2013. Once a Submission is made, the Contestant cannot make any changes or alterations to any part of the Submission.
  4. Intellectual Property: The Submission must use materials available on the website of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics; it must incorporate the "Framework for Ethical Decision-Making," but may use additional materials from that website. The app submitted must be wholly original with the Contestant (individual or team) or an improved version of an existing application that the Contestant has sufficient rights to use (including the substantial improvement of existing open-source apps).
  5. Security: Submissions must be free of malware.

All entries must be submitted to

Judging Criteria:

The Submissions will be judged by a panel of 5 engineering professors and staff members of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Each judge will award up to a total of 100 points to each entry according to the following categories:

  • • Creativity: 30 points: How effectively does the app deploy the "Framework for Ethical Decision Making" and other materials from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics in order to help users improve their ethical decision-making skills?
  • • Programming polish: 30 points: Does the app work smoothly, with minimum bugs?
  • • Design: 20 points: Is the app attractive and engaging?
  • • Accessibility: 20 points: Is the app easy to understand and use?

Submission Rights:

The winning app will become property of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Other Contestants will retain intellectual property rights over their Submissions.

The winner will be announced at an event to be held in late April 2013. Participants will be notified of the event through the e-mail address they provided when entering the contest.

All decisions by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics are final and binding in all matters related to the competition. We reserve the right not to declare a winner if none of the submissions meet the standards determined by the contest's judges.

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