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Undergraduate Offerings Overview

The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society develops educational initiatives for undergraduate students across campus with the aim to create opportunities for ethical reflection about the complex moral challenges facing our society today. To accomplish these goals, the Center prioritizes ethical reflection in the classroom and outside the traditional classroom setting. 

Students from all majors on campus are encouraged to engage with our offerings. Find the right program that interests you, apply for an ethics grant to host your own event, or attend an undergraduate evening gathering to discuss thought-provoking questions related to ethics and philosophy. Explore all of the ways to get involved!

Honors Program

The Honors Program in Ethics in Society offers students in any major the opportunity to write a senior honors thesis on a topic that applies moral and political philosophy to a contemporary practical problem. Learn more.

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General Minor

The Minor in Ethics in Society is open to students from any major who wish to explore the ethical dimensions of urgent challenges facing our society today. Students are challenged to build a more robust philosophical foundation for thinking about practical ethical issues than what is typically provided by their major.

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Ethics and Technology Minor

The Ethics and Technology Minor exposes students to the moral complexity of new and emerging technological developments in our society and encourages them to think critically about their impact on our shared future.

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Ethics Bowl

The Ethics Bowl is an intercollegiate competition that convenes student teams to present cases on ethically complex topics. Each year, ​​the Stanford Practical Ethics Club sends a team to the annual California Regional Ethics Bowl competition. Winners then advance to the national competition. Read more.

black and white logo of Stanford Practical Ethics Club

Stanford Practical Ethics Club

The Stanford Practical Ethics Club (SPEC) is an official ASSU student club and was founded in 2017 to promote in-depth discussion of real-world ethical issues, to help students engage with ethical theory and ethical practice, and to facilitate participation in intercollegiate ethics events.  The ethical concerns SPEC considers—from the right to data privacy to the moral value of art—are inherently interdisciplinary, and this is reflected in the variety of majors represented by the club's members, including Philosophy, Economics, and Earth Systems.

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Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership Fellowship

The Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership Fellowship (ICDP) equips 40 undergraduates from five colleges across the nation, including Stanford, with the skills necessary to navigate and facilitate peer conversations across political differences. Learn more.

Ethics Event Grant

The Center offers grants up to $1,000 to undergraduate students or undergraduate student groups with an event idea that encourages ethical reflection. Funding may be used to purchase books for a book club, offset travel costs for guest speakers, cover food expenses, create marketing materials, and to purchase any necessary items unique to the event. Learn more and apply.

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Democracy Day

Stanford University designated Election Day an annual “Democracy Day.” No classes are scheduled on this day, and students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to participate in events designed to promote democratic participation, civic engagement, and community building. The Center is involved in selecting keynote speakers for the event and creating spaces for peer-to-peer facilitated dialogue about the importance of democracy in society.

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Socrates at Sunset

The Socrates at Sunset event series gives undergraduate students an opportunity to think critically with their peers about topics related to ethics and philosophy in a more intimate setting than a classroom. A faculty member opens the event with thought-provoking remarks, and then students are invited to ask questions. The series ends with students conversing in small groups led by a peer facilitator to help process their reactions. Read more.

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TreeHacks is Stanford University’s premier and largest hackathon. Every year, hundreds of hackers from across the globe gather and build something they're passionate about. The Center hosts a workshop on building ethical technology that is open to all participants.  In addition, the Center sponsors the “Most Ethically Engaged Hack” prize, which offers a monetary reward to the team that can best articulate the ethical tensions and potential hazards latent in their project and creates innovative solutions for addressing them.