Tuesday, September 27, 2016

You are invited to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions!


You are invited to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the
Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions!
Established in 1976, the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions is one of the oldest ethics centers in the country. The Ethics Center helped pioneer the integration of ethics education in the science and engineering disciplines. Today, the Ethics Center addresses topics such as neuro- and bioethics, responsible research and innovation in science and technology, ethical issues in the professions, and the role of ethics codes in society.
We welcome you to join us in celebrating the rich history of the Ethics Center on its 40th anniversary as we look toward the future!
Anniversary Celebration Details
Date: Thursday, October 13, 2016
Time: 5-6:30 p.m.
Location: McCormick Tribune Campus Center (MTCC) Ballroom
3201 South State Street
Chicago, IL 60616
Please contact Kelly Laas with any questions about the event. We look forward to seeing you there!


The Ethics Center celebration will be preceded by the 2nd annual Lewis College Roundtable, Digital Discourse and Civil Society. Scholars from the fields of digital ethics, social psychology, gaming, and communications will explore what constitutes a civil society in the digital age.
How can we promote ethical behavior and social good in the digital space? Has the internet fostered more extreme viewpoints on controversial issues? Does the perceived anonymity in the digital space increase bullying and toxicity in online communities? Are the rules of etiquette and civility different online? 
The Roundtable will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the MTCC McCloska Auditorium.  For more information, please visit the Lewis College Roundtable website.



ethics.iit.edu   |    312.567.3017   |   csep@iit.edu

Monday, September 12, 2016

Center receives $335,800 from National Science Foundation for developing ethical cultures in STEM research

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP) at Illinois Institute of Technology has been awarded a three-year, $335,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project focused on developing ethical cultures in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research. Under the guidance of the project’s principal investigator Elisabeth Hildt, director of CSEP and Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Humanities, and the Co-PIs Kelly Laas, CSEP’s librarian, Eric Brey, Duchossois Leadership Professor and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Christine Miller, Clinical Associate Professor of Innovation at Stuart School of Business, Illinois Tech graduate students in STEM fields will develop discipline and laboratory-specific ethical guidelines aimed at providing support in handling ethical issues important to the lab environments in which they work. The goal of this project is to positively influence researchers’ understanding of ethical research and practice issues, enhance their handling of these issues, and promote an ethical culture in their respective labs and across campus.

  “With this project we plan to develop a broadly applicable module that helps cultivate an ethical culture in experimental labs at IIT and elsewhere,” says Elisabeth Hildt.

The project entitled, “A Bottom-Up Approach to Building a Culture of Responsible Research and Practice in STEM,” focuses on the creation of ethics codes-based guidelines for STEM researchers. Starting from discipline-specific codes of ethics, available through CSEP’s Ethics Codes Collection (graduate students in four different STEM departments at Illinois Tech will develop guidelines on responsible conduct of research (RCR)-related issues they consider of relevance to their laboratory practice. The process of developing these guiding principles will cultivate a high level of ownership in participating students, and help make the guidelines an integral part of the orientation of new lab members.


This is a highly collaborative project with involvement from Armour College’s Departments of Biomedical Engineering (Eric Brey) and Chemical and Biological Engineering (Sohail Murad), and the College of Science’s Departments of Physics (Grant Bunker) and Biology (Andrew Howard) on this project. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Panama Papers: A Blog Post from a member of IPRO 497

This summer, we will be sharing a series of blog posts from the undergraduate students who worked with us on a semester-long project looking at redesigning the Ethics Codes Collection.

The first are the reflections of Zachary Pergrossi, a senior in finance who became interested in ethical codes in accounting, finance and business.

The release of the documents from the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca (see
Mossfon.com), dubbed “The Panama Papers”, has caused quite a bit of controversy surrounding the
parties involved and the ethical breaches they committed. The leak has already seen lasting
repercussions for notable figures worldwide. Ties to political leadership (including Russia’s Vladimir
Putin and the Prime Ministers of Iceland, Britain, and Pakistan, among others) 1 have already caused
sudden responses from the public. The resignation of Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, in particular, showed the response that a breach of ethics can cause. As a member of Iceland’s Progressive party, a violation of the public’s trust brought non-partisan support for nation-wide protests. Results like these come from a clear breach of the ethical codes our societies subscribe to, but these were not the only codes bent or broken during the revelation of the Panama Papers.

Many codes were broken in the years-long process to reveal the information. So why, then, is the
breach of code by the whistleblowing hacker 2 celebrated while those of Mossack Fonseca and its clients are reviled? A close look at each code can help us to understand the public sentiment toward this issue.

The first thing to note about this situation is that Mossack Fonseca has no specific code of ethics
whatsoever. Their site boasts of their services and accomplishments but does not specify the codes they operate under. However, following the leak, Mossack Fonseca detailed some of the rules they follow in dealing with clients:
we conduct due diligence on clients at the outset of a potential engagement and on an ongoing
basis;
  • we routinely deny services to individuals who are compromised or who fail to provide information we need in order to comply with “know your client” obligations or when we identify other red flags through our due diligence;
  • we routinely resign from client engagements when ongoing due diligence and/or updates to sanctions lists reveals that a party to a company for which we provide services been either convicted or listed by a sanctioning body;
  • we routinely comply with requests from authorities investigating companies or individuals for whom we are providing services;
  • we work with established intermediaries, such as investment banks, accountancies and law firms, as part of the regulated global financial system. 3
Despite these standards, Mossack Fonseca’s clients are some of the most prolific tax- and regulation-
dodgers worldwide. The failures of codes of ethics to prevent situations like this are one of the most
common arguments against the documents. Some argue, even, that “aspirational” codes of ethics
simply reveal the organization’s commitment to not being able to follow their own code. A code made simply ‘for show’ will do nothing to prevent unethical behavior. Unfortunately, many codes seem to be made as public relations pieces rather than a governing document. A strong code, though, provides protections for both professionals and the people they interact with.

Where Mossack Fonseca’s code failed them, the journalists’ did not. Each was a member of the
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and held to a strict set of principles about how the information was to be handled. While journalists from the Sueddeutsche Zeitung had access to the data for over a year, the maintenance of their code of ethics allowed them to work with ICIJ members during this time for over a year without information being leaked to the public. A concerted effort from the ICIJ members allowed them to release the information in unison to maximize the effect of the documents. This coordination was important to the journalists because of the potential harm a mistake could cause. Naming an individual in a case like this was a serious matter. Beyond that, the nature of the information could potentially put the journalists at risk for retribution; only a simultaneous release could protect them, and only a strict code of ethics could accomplish that.

Even now, the journalists stick to their ethics. Asked to release the raw data, employees of the
Sueddeutsche Zeitung explained that they could not:

“We are not going to release the raw data and we have valid reasons to do so. The source
decided to give the data to journalists and not, i.e., to Wikileaks. As journalists, we have to
protect our source: We can’t guarantee that there is no way for someone to find out who the
source is with the data. That’s why we can’t make the data public.

And as responsible journalists we also stick to certain ethical rules: You don’t harm the privacy
of people, who are not in the public eye. Blacking out private data is a task that would require a
lifetime of work - we have eleven million documents!” 4

While weak ethical stances allowed Mossack Fonseca’s clients to dodge taxes and regulation on a global scale, strong ethical codes allowed the Panama Papers to make an impact on the corruption of the world’s elite. A code of ethics made to be seen will prevent nothing, but a code of ethics meant to be followed will make all the difference.

To bring one of the latter type to your company or organization, please see the IIT Ethics Code
Collection’s resources on writing and improving codes of ethics.

1 http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/world/europe/panama-papers- iceland.html
2 http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-04- 06/mossack-fonseca- blames-panama- papers-leak- on-hackers
3 http://www.mossfon.com/media/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Statement- Regarding-Recent- Media-Coverage_4-1- 2016.pdf
4. https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/4fi6ck/we_are_the_investigative_journalists _who_worked

References:
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-04- 06/mossack-fonseca- blames-panama- papers-leak- on-hackers

https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/4fi6ck/we_are_the_investigative_journalists_who_worked
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/world/europe/panama-papers- iceland.html

http://www.mossfon.com/media/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Statement- Regarding-Recent- Media-
Coverage_4-1- 2016.pdf
https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/4fi6ck/we_are_the_investigative_journalists_who_worked

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl mentioned as an effective teaching tool in latest Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues Report

Last week, the  Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission)  published a new report, Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology that highlights the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl as an effective teaching tool for college students to learn about ethics.

Last year,  emeritus professor Dr. Robert Ladenson had the opportunity to speak at a roundtable discussion organized by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues that focused on brainstorming ideas on education and deliberation. Dr. Ladenson discussed how the Ethics Bowl has been used around the country by high schools and universities to help students not only to learn about important ethical issues, but also deliberate and discuss these issues in the form of a competition.

The report describes the Ethics Bowl as, 
"...the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl teaches college students how to engage in ethical reasoning by deliberating in teams about specific cases, including bioethics topics. The Ethics Bowl challenges the traditional pedagogical approaches and requires students to engage with the topic and deliberate together, each bringing her own values and ethical reasoning skills to bear. It raises the stakes by using team competition, engaging students in active learning. " (p.77)


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Videos from IPRO -497-226 Improving the Ethics Codes Collection

After winning their track on IPRO Day, we wanted to share some of what our amazing students got up to this semester.  Charged with producing videos that documented how different types of users will interact with the Ethics Codes Collection, these are the final results of the four teams.

Professional Users Video

Nonusers Video

Nonprofessional Users Video

Owners Video

This class came up with innovative new ideas to reimagine the Ethics Codes Collection into a resource that is not only a great asset for ethics code owners and professionals of all disciplines, but is also a great for students and any new users discovering ethics for the first time. With funding from the MacArthur Foundation, our class began the work to improve it by using a user-centered design approach. User-centered approach means we put the user in the center of our research process and conducted qualitative methods to identify their unmet needs and desires and redesign the collection according to user needs. The students created four videos documenting their findings on how different groups of users are likely to approach the site, and came up with a list of resources that the redesigned site will adopt as part of its new interface and expanded collection. The success of this semester will set us up for next semester, when we will building the prototype of the Ethics Codes Collection!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Congratulations to IPRO 497-226!

Congratulations to IPRO 497-226!winning your IPRO Day Track, Improving the Student Experience!
This class came up with innovative new ideas to reimagine the Ethics Codes Collection into a resource that is not only a great asset for ethics code owners and professionals of all disciplines, but is also a great for students and any new users discovering ethics for the first time. With funding from the MacArthur Foundation, our class began the work to improve it by using a user-centered design approach. User-centered approach means we put the user in the center of our research process and conducted qualitative methods to identify their unmet needs and desires and redesign the collection according to user needs. The students created four videos documenting their findings on how different groups of users are likely to approach the site, and came up with a list of resources that the redesigned site will adopt as part of its new interface and expanded collection. The success of this semester will set us up for next semester, when we will building the prototype of the Ethics Codes Collection!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ethics Center Conference Brings Philosophy to 21st-Century Neuroscience

Over the weekend, the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions hosted 19 speakers who were gathered to discuss whether we can learn anything about morality by studying the way the human brain makes moral decisions. The symposium—called Does Neuroscience Have Normative Implications?—attracted graduate students, junior faculty members, and full professors from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience departments across the country. The proceedings of the symposium are to be collected and published as a collected volume, edited by Ethics Center Director Elisabeth Hildt and postdoctoral research fellow Geoff Holtzman. The conference, and the publication of its proceedings, present an opportunity for IIT to expand its reach into the growing field of neuroethics. 

Thanks to all of the participants for making this conference an incredible success!