Monday, August 21, 2017

Consider Submitting an Abstract for the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Conference

The annual meeting for the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics will be held in Chicago on March 1-4th 2018 and Illinois Tech faculty and students should think about submitting an abstract! 

This call invites individuals from all disciplines and professions interested in advancing scholarship, teaching and a general understanding of practical and professional ethics. Submissions are invited on ethical issues in all fields including business, engineering, government, media, law, medicine, science and technology as well as interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary issues that cut across professions such as biomedical, educational, environmental, public health and research.

The Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) is a multidisciplinary, international organization advancing scholarship, education, and practice in practical and professional ethics. They facilitate and support collaboration among scholars and teachers, business and government leaders, and professionals from all areas concerned with the practical application of ethics and values.

The deadline for submission is October 27, 2017.

We hope you think about presenting and attending this great event!

Friday, August 18, 2017

NSF to Strengthen Responsible Conduct of Research Requirements.

Yesterday, Science Magazine featured an article discussing the decision of the National Science Foundation to reinforce its responsible conduct of research (RCR) policy in light of a report released by the Office of the Inspector General in late July finding  that a number of universities receiving NSF funding either did not have a RCR training policy in place or did not require students to complete the training before participating in an NSF-funded project. The report also pressed the agency to provide written guidelines or templates for universities to follow when developing these kind of training programs.

Current NSF policy gives universities a wide amount of leeway in how they want to provide RCR training for students, and the NSF is currently funding a number of project seeking to pioneer new ways of introducing students to responsible conduct of research and how to effectively identify and handle ethical issues that come up in the course of research. The Ethics Center is currently starting year two of its NSF-funded project, "A Bottom-Up Approach to Building a Culture of Responsible Research and Practice in STEM" in which groups of graduate students will develop discipline and research group-specific ethical guidelines aimed at providing support in handling ethical issues important to the research environment they work in. This year, we will be working with four different departments -two in science and two in engineering- to pilot this approach.

If successful, approaches like this could be another option for universities in the near future to fulfill this NSF training requirement.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Remembering Vivian Weil

The June edition of Science and Engineering Ethics includes a wonderful article remembering the Center's former director, Dr. Vivian Weil, who passed away in May of 2016. At the meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) in Dallas, Texas in February 2017 a special tribute session honoring Dr. Weil was held, during which four colleagues shared some of their memories and thoughts.  Speakers were: Dr. Michael Davis, Professor of Philosophy at Illinois Tech and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, Rachelle Hollander, Director of the Center for Engineering Ethics and Society at the National Academy of Engineering,  Deni Elliott, Professor of Digital Journalism and Design at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, and Michael Prichard, Professor Emeritus and Co-Directer for the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at Western Michigan State.

Thanks again to Science and Engineering Ethics for sharing this with Dr. Weil's friends and colleagues.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Join the Ethics Center for a play and discussion of Queen at the Victory Gardens Theater on May 10th!

Join the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions to watch the play Queen  at the Victory Gardens Theater on Saturday, May 10th at 7:30 pm.  We will also be meeting for dinner at a nearby resturaunt before the performance, details TBD.

All are welcome! 

If interested, please email Kelly Laas at

Synopsis of the play: PhD candidates Sanam and Ariel have spent the better part of the last decade exhaustively researching vanishing bee populations across the globe. Just as these close friends are about to publish a career-defining paper, Sanam stumbles upon an error in their calculations, which could cause catastrophic damage to their reputations, careers, and friendship. Now, Sanam is confronted with an impossible choice: look the other way or stand by her principles and accept the consequences?

Location: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 North Lincoln Ave. Chicago IL 60614

Friday, December 16, 2016

Celebrating the Legacy of Vivian Weil

Dr. Robert Ladenson, an emeritus professor at Illinois Tech and long-time fellow of the Ethics Center wrote a beautiful piece on the legacy of our former director, Vivian Weil, that appeared in abbreviated from  yesterday in the American Philosophical Association newsletter. Below is the complete piece.

Vivian Weil: October 29, 1929 – May 07, 2016
    Vivian Weil taught philosophy at the Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) for forty two years (1972-2014).  From its inception in 1976, Vivian was involved actively in Illinois Tech’s Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP), and she was Director of CSEP for twenty seven years (1987-2014).  The decision to create CSEP forty years ago responded to a growing sense, at the time, among engineers and scientists of being presented increasingly in research, teaching, and work with ethical issues their education and prior experiences did not equip them to address.  For this reason, during the early years of CSEP those who shaped its agenda of activities and projects agreed on two basic objectives: (1) to create useful tools for deliberation about ethical issues in different professions, with special emphasis upon engineering, technology, and science; and (2) to develop educational venues in which students (both undergraduate and graduate), teachers, and practicing members of various professions (especially in technological and scientific areas) could use these tools to explore ethical issues in ways that are well informed, thoughtful, open minded, and open ended.  CSEP’s success in accomplishing these objectives is now acknowledged throughout the world.  CSEP has pioneered and developed educational innovations which became adopted widely, conducted many sponsored research projects that resulted in high quality publications on important topics in practical and professional ethics, and organized numerous conferences, workshops, and public lectures.  It has, in addition collected, curated, and is now digitizing, the world’s largest archive of professional conduct codes and guidelines, the CSEP/Illinois Tech Ethics Code Collection.

Vivian Weil’s leadership was by far the most important factor contributing to CSEP’s record of achievement.  Most, if not all, CSEP projects are collaborations of CSEP staff with, in many cases, Illinois Tech faculty and students, and, in many other cases, researchers, scholars and practicing professionals from outside of Illinois Tech.  Vivian organized, encouraged, and took part in such projects unfailingly with a combination of keen intelligence, enthusiasm, and a truly exceptional affinity for productive collaboration.  Her most influential contribution was to develop and to model such collaboration across disciplinary boundaries many had considered impassable, for which Vivian received warm appreciation and strong recognition from her fellow educators.  In this regard, for example, Julio R. Tema, Associate Director of the Benjamin Franklin Scholars Integrated Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania, who, as a graduate student, took part in a collaborative project of Vivian’s with nanotechnology researchers, credits the experience as having “changed his career trajectory and his intellectual life.” He writes:  “Though I felt philosophy was somewhat empty without real world involvement, I had not been exposed to much hands-on philosophy.  Vivian changed all that and for this I will be forever grateful.”  During her career Vivian was Chair of the Executive Committee of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, a governing member of the National Institute of Engineering Ethics, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a recipient of the Sterling Olmstead Award of the American Society of Engineering Education.

     An outstanding student from her early years, Vivian graduated as class valedictorian from the academically distinguished Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati.  She then entered the University of Chicago, which her former Walnut Hills fellow student, and future life-long partner in marriage, Irwin Weil was attending.  Vivian received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Chicago, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.  Like many academically talented women of her generation, throughout the 1950’s and early 1960’s Vivian subordinated her strong interest in continued study of philosophy in graduate school to caring for and raising her children (Martin, Alice, and Daniel).  In the mid 1960’s, however, Vivian resumed graduate study as a student in the newly created philosophy Ph.D. program of the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC), and received her Ph.D. from UIC in 1972, writing a doctoral thesis on diverse aspects of action theory.

     During her early years on the Illinois Tech faculty Vivian wrote papers and published articles in action theory.  With the founding of CSEP in 1976, however, her academic focus shifted entirely in a new direction upon which it remained for the rest of her career.  Practical and professional ethics, especially related to engineering, technology, and science, aligned closely with Illinois Tech’s fundamental mission.  It provided also an opportunity for Vivian to draw upon philosophy as an important conceptual resource to address issues of major social importance, thereby connecting with her abidingly strong sense of moral and social idealism.  (Vivian one told me this sense took hold initially through participating as a teenager in the youth group to which she belonged of the Isaac Mayer Wise Reform Jewish Temple in Cincinnati.)  Furthermore, as exemplified time and time again during her years as Director of CSEP, it also gave full scope to her instinctive pleasure and joy in facilitating and taking part in productive collegial academic collaboration.

     Summarizing concisely Vivian Weil’s accomplishments and contributions, though not easy, can be done.  No words, however, at least none I’m capable of expressing, can convey with adequate fullness and depth of feeling how much those of us who knew and worked with Vivian admired, respected, learned from, liked, and loved her.  We were blessed to have had Vivian as our colleague.

Robert Ladenson (December 07, 2016)

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.   |    312.567.3017   |

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.