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Ethics & the Academy Course

This is a free course open to graduate students (and postdocs, space permitting) through the Stanford Graduate Summer Institute. SGSI courses are interdisciplinary and sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

Who gets admitted to selective universities and why? What should we expect of members of the campus community given people’s varied roles (e.g., as learners, researchers, mentors, and employees)? Who should benefit from university resources? When controversies erupt, what values should guide their resolution? This course will address these sorts of perennial ethical questions on campus. We will explore the values (e.g., justice, equality, fairness) underlying ongoing campus debates (e.g., about admissions, free speech, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and universityfinancnes). Participants will gain insights about their role at the university, learn to recognize values inherent in campus policies, and reflect on the norms that shape their experiences.

Wednesday, Sept. 8 – Friday, Sept. 10, 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. & Monday, Sept. 13, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Instructors
Anne Newman, research director, McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society

Audience & Capacity
Open to all graduate students in any discipline, as well as postdoctoral scholars, if space allows. Space is limited to 25. 

Objectives
By participating fully in this course, you will:

  • Candidly reflect on ethical issues that arise in all facets of campus life.
  • Analyze how values that underlie ethical issues on campus (e.g., equality, justice, fairness, diversity) sit in tension with competing ideas about the purpose of the university.
  • Engage in ethical reflection about students’ roles and commitments as members of the academic community.
  • Learn about Stanford policies and norms that bear on students' experience as researchers, students, and instructors.
  • Cultivate an interdisciplinary and supportive network of peers.

Summary
Ethical questions arise in all aspects of campus life.

  • Who gets admitted to selective universities and why?
  • Who should benefit from university resources?
  • What should we expect of members of the campus community given people’s varied roles as learners, researchers, and mentors?
  • When controversies erupt, what values should guide their resolution?

Potential answers to these questions involve different views of foundational values like justice, merit, and equality. We will explore these values by considering current debates on campuses about issues like admissions, free speech, openness in research, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. We will discuss short readings and hear from guest speakers who will explain relevant campus policies and their rationales. Participants will gain insight about their roles within the university, learn to recognize and weigh the values at stake in campus policies and norms, and most practically, learn how various issues have been handled at Stanford with implications for teaching, research, and coursework.

Additional Course Expectations
Students will complete about 30-60 minutes of reading per day outside of class.
Full attendance is expected.

SGSI 2021 has received preliminary approval for in-person learning. Although some courses may still incorporate synchronous, virtual delivery depending on format and class size, students are required to be on campus during SGSI. This is subject to change pending public health and university guidelines at that time. We will keep students informed of any changes promptly. 

To learn more and apply, visit the SGSI course listing  Admissions is on a rolling basis.