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National Ethics Project

The National Ethics Project (NEP) is a mixed-method research project focused on undergraduate ethics education. In partnership with the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard and the University of South Florida, we are conducting this research to understand the current state of ethics education on US college campuses, and to make recommendations to improve ethics programming.

Despite the proliferation of ethics courses, degrees, and initiatives in recent years, there is no consensus on how to determine what ethics education is achieving at U.S. colleges and universities. Broadly speaking, it remains unclear whether ethics education is meeting students’ needs, and how we might effectively assess student learning about ethics. The NEP examines ethics education from the perspectives of three groups –institutions, instructors, and students – to answer the following questions:

  • Where and how is ethics currently taught to undergraduates, within and beyond the classroom?
  • What ethical quandaries do students understand themselves to face? Where are the gaps between current practices and student needs?
  • What are appropriate methods of assessing ethics curricular, co-curricular activities, and informal student experiences?
  • What should contemporary ethics education and assessment look like in light of students’ needs, technological and demographic changes, and trends in higher education?

The Stanford Ethics Center’s portion of the NEP is focused on understanding Stanford undergraduates’ perspectives on ethics education. In collaboration with colleagues at the d. school, we are using a design-thinking approach to understand what ethical dilemmas Stanford undergraduates face, and what resources they have (or lack) to work through those dilemmas. We have conducted interviews with Stanford undergraduates, and have developed and tested a range of curricular prototypes in response to what we have heard from students. Key findings and recommendations will be shared in the coming months. For questions about this research, and for opportunities to engage with ongoing work, please email Anne Newman.