Monday, December 15, 2014

Davis and Laas present at the Second International Workshop on "The Construction of Engineering Ethics Without Borders."

On December 5, 2014, Dr. Michael Davis and CSEP Librarian Kelly Laas took part in the Second International Workshop on "The Construction of Engineering Ethics Education Without Borders" in Tokyo, Japan.

The conference centered on the work of the Japanese Society on Engineering Education's Research Committee on Engineering Ethics, who have developed an impressive set of learning objectives, teaching modules, and assessment/evaluation methods for engineering ethics education. These materials are meant to be used by the international community, and represent an extensive amount of work and input by JSEE and international collaborators. Along with sharing thoughts about how these materials may work in a U.S. setting, Dr. Davis and Ms. Laas shared information about the Center's experience in assisting engineering faculty in teaching ethics and the role a librarian can play in integrating ethics across the engineering curriculum.

From left top to right bottom, Kelly Laas, CSEP Librarian; Dr. Wen-ling Hong, Assistant Professor, Department of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering and Director, Center for STS, College of Ocean Engineering, National Kaosiung Marine University Taiwan; Dr. Hassan Bashir, Associate Professor , Director, and Founding of the Initiative in Professional Ethics, Texas A&M University at Qatar, D.r Jun Fudano, Chair, Research Committee on Engineering Ethics, JSEE Director, Applied Ethics Center for Engineering and Science , Kanazawa Institute of Technology; Dr. Dongjoo Song, Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering, Yeugnam University, and Dr. Micchael Davis, Senior Fellow, CSEP, Illinois Institute of Technology.

CSEP closed for IIT's Winter Break

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions will be closed from December 18-January 4th for IIT's winter break. We will reopen for normal business hours starting January 5th.

Seasons greetings to all of our friends and colleagues and we hope you have an excellent start to 2015!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Two-Year Research Position at CSEP

Illinois Institute of Technology’s Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP) invites applications for a two-year research position beginning in Fall 2015. The position is for a post-doctoral researcher or a Ph.D. student who has strong research interests in philosophical and ethical issues in neuroscience. The Ph.D. student must have finished his or her course work and have a Master’s degree or an equivalent. He or she will work within the two-year research project “Neuroethics – on the interplay between neuroscience and ethics” funded by the Swiss Cogito Foundation. The research project investigates philosophical and ethical implications of neuroscientific research. It focuses on the question of how far neuroscientific research results can serve as an adequate basis for arguments concerning moral judgment and ethical theory. Given the interdisciplinary character of the project, we especially welcome candidates with a research specialty both in philosophy/ethics and neuroscience. The salary is $39,000 per calendar year plus benefits.

Please send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, writing sample, and three letters of recommendation to . Inquiries may be directed to Elisabeth Hildt, Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, Illinois Institute of Technology, 3241 S Federal Street, Chicago, IL 60616.   

Deadline:  January 31, 2015.  

Illinois Institute of Technology is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA employer committed to enhancing equity, inclusion and diversity within its community.  It actively seeks applications from women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, veterans and other underrepresented groups.  All qualified applicants will receive equal consideration for employment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

IIT Ethics Bowl Competes in the Upper Midwest Regional Competition

On Saturday, November 15th, the IIT Ethics Bowl Team participated in the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl Competition at Harper College in Palatine, IL. The team went head to head with some of the top ethics bowl teams in the Midwest, debating cases dealing with everything from animal rights to social justice issues.  Team members Gaby Sumampouw  ‘15, Reno Waswil, ‘17  and Aaron Truitt, ‘17. Congratulations to the IIT Ethics Bowl Team for their amazing performance!

If you are interested in becoming part of the team, visit our facebook page ( or send Kelly Laas an email at

Thursday, October 30, 2014



Dr. Tom Buller

Illinois State University

November 10, 2014, 11:00 -12:30

MTCC Auditorium

Please join the Center for the Ethics in the Professions in a discussion about advance directives in the context of research. Although advance directives have become a familiar instrument within the context of treatment, there has been minimal support for their expansion into the context of research.  In this paper, Dr. Buller argues that the principle of precedent autonomy that grants a competent person the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment when later incompetent, also grants a competent person the right to consent to research than is greater than minimal risk. An examination of the principle of precedent autonomy reveals that a future-binding research decision is within the scope of a competent person’s critical interests, if the decision is consistent with what the person believes gives her life intrinsic value.

Tom Bulleris Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Illinois State University.  His main research interests are in Bioethics and Neuroethics.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Repost: Boeing Scholars Academy Program Instructor, Kaela Gerald, writes about the Ethics Bowl

For the past four years, CSEP has helped organize an ethics bowl for the Boeing Scholars Academy, a summer program for Chicago-area high school students that introduces them to them to diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career fields and involves the students in searching for solutions to pressing world problems with both significant technological and ethical aspects.

Recently one of the Program Instructors, Kaela Gerald, shared some of her thoughts about the ethics bowl and how it challenged her students. If you are interested in organizing a similar event, please let us know!

RightWrong. It Depends. To me, these make up the three way junction at the end of the ethics road. On this journey, I believe the scholars found a better definition for ethics and learned why it was important.
Ethics has to do with what is right or wrong.” “Ethics has to do with people’s moral beliefs.”  “Ethics consist of standard behaviors that is accepted by society.” These are some answers I got from my cluster as we prepared for the annual Ethics Bowl that took place during the second week of the program. The Ethics Bowl is an exciting, competitive tournament aimed to model the best methods of reasoning in practical and professional ethics. The scholars gained a valuable experience of analyzing two cases and participating in an ethical discussion. One of the things that stood out to me, was how the Ethics Bowl was different to a debate. The scholars were asked to take a position on 1)Whether nations, especially those who contribute the most to pollution, should be required to take in climate change refugees from regions facing rising sea levels and 2) The creation of a new charter for a Finnish School of Chicago, as a member of the Chicago Board of Education. Unlike a debate, the scholars took part in more of a back and forth discussion in the support of their positions. This required listening to key points of the opposing team and not only disagreeing politely, but acknowledging the points of agreement. In addition, asking intuitive questions for clarification and support.
I admired the format, rules, and process of the Ethics Bowl. It allows one to be aware and to give thoughtful consideration to different viewpoints. To be successful, having a plethora of different viewpoints is essential to deciding the most ethical conclusion. During the preparation time, I asked each scholar in my cluster to state their position with reasons, for both cases. We then collectively decided on pros and cons for each case. These tactics seemed to aid the scholars tremendous as the competed. They were able to give insightful responses, specific to ethical considerations asked by their opponents and the judges.
The theme, “STEM Diplomacy” was definitely present throughout the Ethics Bowl. Scholars learned how to disagree diplomatically and with respect, a life skill they should always carry with them.
Kaela Gerald - Program Instructor
Kaela Gerald
Kaela is pursuing a Co-terminal degree in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. She is from the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia.
Kaela enjoys going to the beach, dancing and cooking. She hopes to make a difference in the world through advances in science and engineering, mentoring and helping others. As a program instructor, for summer 2014, she felt truly inspired by all the IIT Boeing Scholars and staff.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Call for Abstracts: The Human Sciences after the Decade of the Brain – Perspectives on the Neuro-Turn in the Social Sciences and the Humanities

CSEP Director and co-organizer of the conference, Dr. Elisabeth Hildt, invites interested scholars to submit an abstract by December 15, 2014.

The Human Sciences after the Decade of the Brain – Perspectives on the Neuro-Turn in the SocialSciences and the Humanities.

Philosophy Department, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany

March 30 – March 31, 2015


It is now almost 25 years since the U.S. Congress authorized the then president, George Bush sr., to proclaim the decade beginning January 1, 1990 as the Decade of the Brain. This proclamation intimulated a number of initiatives that substantially benefitted neuroscience research in the following years. Alongside this rise of neuroscience and the corresponding increase of public awareness, many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences have shifted towards more brain based and evolutionary informed approaches. New research fields such as Neuroethics, Neuroeconomics, Cognitive Cultural Studies, Neuroaesthetics or even Neurotheology have gained a following. In addition to surveying the mutual interactions between the cognitive neurosciences and
the social sciences and humanities, this interdisciplinary symposium investigates the methodological and conceptual prospects and perils of choosing a neuroscience approach to the social sciences and the humanities. The symposium aims to shed light on a broad range of epistemological, historical and sociological questions about the purported neuro-turn in the social sciences and the humanities including (but not limited to):

  • How and why have brain based approaches to the social sciences and humanities developed?
  • What exactly distinguishes cognitive and brain based approaches from their traditional counterparts?
  • How are brain-based sub-disciplines of the traditional humanities institutionalized?
  • How does research policy contribute to the development of a neuro-turn in the social sciences and the humanities?
  • Are there common motives for turning to cognitive neuroscience approaches in the different disciplines of social sciences and humanities? If so, which?
  • Are there any historical examples of a turn to brain based approaches in the social sciences and the humanities?
  • If so, what could be learned from this history for practicing social sciences and humanities today?
  • What, if anything, can the humanities and the social sciences learn from the neurosciences?
  • What, if anything, can the neurosciences learn from the social sciences and the humanities?
  • How does neuroscience change the social sciences and the humanities?
  • How do the humanities and the social sciences change neuroscience?

We invite submission of abstracts of 300-500 words from researchers in relevant disciplines such as history of science, science and technology studies, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, cognitive neuroscience, psychology or any sub-discipline of the social sciences or the humanities, which approaches its subject from a cognitive science perspective. Abstracts should be emailed to leefmann[at] by December 15, 2014. Applicants will be notified by mid-January 2015 whether their abstract has been accepted.

This symposium is part of the international project ‘The Neuro-Turn in the Social Sciences and the Humanities’ (NESSHI) funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). For information on the project see:

Monday, October 13, 2014

IIT Students, Interested in an Essay Contest?

Every year, the Elie Wiesel Foundation sponsors an essay contest for undergraduate juniors and seniors. This year, the topic is:

"Articulate with clarity an ethical issue that you have encountered and analyze what it has taught you about ethics and yourself."

Have some ideas? Want some inspiration? Stop by the Ethics Center to chat!

We would love to have one or more IIT students be a part of this competition. Essays should be between 3,000 to 4,000 words and can be about any topic, as long as it explores the theme of ethics. The Foundation is offering a $5,000 cash prize for the winning essay. Final submission for the essays is December 8, 2014.

 For more information, visit the contest web site.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Come learn more about the IIT Ethics Bowl Team on August 22!

Welcome Students!

Please come visit the table of the IIT Ethics Bowl Team this Friday, August 22 from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. just outside Hermann Hall. You will be able to meet members of the team, sign up for more information, and learn how to take part in the Upper Midwest Ethics Bowl competition this November.

For more information, please find us in Hawk Link or email Kelly Laas at

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ethics Center Closed for July 4th

The Ethics Center will be closed this Friday, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day.  We will resume normal hours on Monday, July 7th.

Have an excellent holiday weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Judges Need for Ethics Bowl Competition, July 7, 2014

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions invites faculty, staff and interested graduate students to participate as a judge or moderator in the Boeing Scholars Academy Ethics Bowl on Monday, July 7, 2014 from 2-5 p.m. on the Main Campus.

The IIT Boeing Scholars Academy brings 100 high-achieving Chicago area high school students together for a four-week, thematic program that introduces them to diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career fields and involves the students in searching for solutions to pressing world problems with both significant technological and ethical aspects.

The Ethics Bowl competition on July 7 will challenge the students to take what they have learned during the first weeks of the program a step further, asking them to work as a group to analyze and discuss a series of ethics cases concerning world problems such as issues surrounding emerging technologies, the environment, disease prevention, crime, and issues related to the current economy and job creation.

There will be a 45 minute training session for judges and moderators at 2 pm after which there will be one round of ethics bowl. The deadline to volunteer is June 30, 2014.

If you have questions or are interested in being a part of the competition, email Kelly Laas at

Thursday, May 8, 2014

CSEP Receives NSF Award to help improve the Ethics Education Library and the Online Ethics Center

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions has received a 5 year grant from the National Science Federation for $158,868.00 to help build an Online Resource Center for Ethics in Science and Engineering. This Online Center will assist scientists and engineers find the resources and support they need to recognize and address the ethical implications of their work.

This project expands the National Academy of Engineering’s Online Ethics Center (OEC) to be the go-to online source for these critical resources and support for ethics and ethics education in science and engineering. Collaboration with the Ethics Education Library (EEL) of the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions will provide access to a wider array of materials than will be housed in the OEC and promote interactions with other repositories of ethics-related information. The OEC and the EEL will redesign and augment its resources so that ethical and social justice considerations associated with science and engineering 1) are incorporated in the work of practicing engineers and scientists, 2) inform faculty teaching and course development, 3) are broadly appreciated by undergraduate and graduate students

Kelly Laas, the librarian of the Ethics Center, will be heading CSEP's involvement in this project.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Brown Bag Lunches...Ideas for topics for Fall 2014

CSEP will be restarting its Brown Bag Lunches this coming semester. Each lunch focuses on a ethics topic in engineering, science, and the social sciences and following a short talk, participants will be invited to take part in an informal discussion.  Topics can be just about anything from current events in the news to longstanding ethical issues that arise in professional practices.

We are looking for ideas for topics as well as suggestions for speakers, so please feel free to reply to this blog post or email Kelly Laas at with your thoughts!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

AAAS Workshop, February 13th - Responsible Professional Practices in a Changing Research Environment—Integrating Ethics Education Into the Research Environment.

Come join us at a AAAS workshop on Research Ethics! 

A full-day Workshop on Responsible Professional Practices in a Changing Research Environment—Integrating Ethics Education Into the Research Environment.

February 13, 2014, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm. Breakfast and lunch provided.

The Hyatt Regency Chicago, Skyway 260.

The workshop is grounded in a recognition that many research ethics issues are relevant to the practice and application of science, from developing hypotheses and designing a protocol, to data management and analysis, to reporting findings and advising others on the uses of the work.  Integrating ethics instruction into the performance of those various stages of research can be an effective strategy for educating future researchers. Participants will be introduced to rationales, content, approaches, tools, and resources to give them the means to develop and implement research ethics education in specific research environments.


University administrators, faculty, and post-docs interested in creating concrete, discipline-specific strategies to incorporate research ethics education into the context of the research environment, whether it be a lab or field work.


The meeting is open to all for a US$25.00 fee. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more from the same institution. (For details, contact One need not register or attend any part of the AAAS Annual Meeting to participate in this special workshop. To register:

1.       Go to the AAAS Annual Meeting registration page,
2.    ShowAAA131/Default.aspx, and click the General Attendees box.
        3. Login: enter your email address and password; click next 3. Membership: enter your AAAS member information or click "not a member"; click next
        4. Contact: enter your contact information; click next
        5. Registration Type: for those who plan to attend the workshop, but are not registering for the Annual Meeting, select option C "Pre-Meeting Workshop Only"; click next
        6. Select the option "Responsible Professional Practices in a Changing Research Environment"; click next
        7. Continue through the registration process and enter your payment information.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure

Though out for a while, I just came across this unusual publication. The Encyclopedia of Ethics Failure is published by the U.S. Department of Defense. Started 10 years ago, it is meant to be an ethics guide for government employees. In an effort the keep employees' attention on a subject that can often be rather dry, the DoD Standards of Conduct adopted this eye-catching name and assembled a selection of cases of ethical failure for use as a training tool.

Its an eye-opening read, and you can catch an interview with the founding editor of the Encyclopedia and its current editor from a July 2013 interview done by Freakconomics.

An interesting example of how to make ethics education more alive to this perspective audience.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Is Snowden a whistleblower?

Here at the Center, we often talk about what it takes to be a whistleblower and what kinds of protections whistleblowers should have from retribution after they report wrongdoing. While waiting out this latest chilly spell of weather, I spent a lot of time listening to NPR and heard an interesting exchange on Morning Edition about if Edward Snowden and what his status should be. Is he a criminal for leaking classified documents? Is he a whistleblower and a hero for helping make the public aware of the extent to which our government is spying on its citizens?Or is he something in between?

On January 1st the New York Times published an editorial called Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower that argues that Snowden deserves far better than a life in exile, as his leaked documents have led to public revelations about the National Security Association's collecting of of millions of phone calls, email messages and and other information. As Congress scrutinizes these practices and the Obama administration  and it does seem that this might be one of those classic cases of whistleblowing. Snowden's leaks at least partially led to the forming of a  panel convened by President Obama to review the National Security Agency's current policies. In December, the panel put out a number of recommendations, including that the NSA should be banned from attempting to undermine the security of the internet and from collecting telephone records in bulk. So Snowden's leaks have lead to a number of reforms already in this area.

However, Fred Kaplan of Slate Magazine wrote an interesting piece a few days ago about why he thinks Snowden should not get clemency.  While aplauding the public debate raised by Snowden's actions, Kaplan condemns his leaking of information that deals with the NSA's international surveillance programs, as well as his the way in which he gained access to these documents by lying to his colleagues.

So what do you think? Should we view Edward Snowden as a whistle-blower who deserves some leniency when considering how he gained access to and leaked these classified documents to the world? Or does his actions place him outside of the definition of whistleblower?