The National Ethics Project (NEP) is a consortium of researchers, educators, and practitioners from different disciplines and a variety of higher ed institutions. We study where and how ethics is currently taught. We identify and share effective techniques for ethics instruction. We cultivate evolving projects and tools that promote ethics nationwide.
Society demands ethics education.
The world has changed in significant ways since the last comprehensive study of ethics education 40 years ago. It’s imperative that we keep pace with rapid technological, political, economic, and demographic shifts of the world today. Ethics provides the framework and tools to understand and enact responsible human stewardship for our world.
Ethics is increasingly recognized by educators and employers as the pathway to individual and collective integrity, responsibility, and success in society and the workplace. The NEP strives to offer educators in all environments — K-12, higher education, corporations, government, and anywhere that mindful people gather — effective and innovative ways for communicating and achieving ethical thought and action.
Spotlight on Ethics
Spotlight on Ethics is published each month to showcase innovative programs in ethics.
The pandemic fractured normal life, creating a call to action for the public-facing Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. By the end of May, the Institute had issued a white paper, An Ethics Framework for the COVID-19 Reopening Process, to aid decision-makers from small business owners to governmental leaders at the local, state and national levels.
Social distancing and self-isolation, “requires discipline, mental toughness, and courage; not traits I particularly associated with myself.” This was an early realization shared by Southern Methodist University junior Rylee Bailey in her March, 2020 pandemic blog. Bailey, a student staff member at SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility, began writing and sharing the blog on social media when the campus shutdown.
Misinformation can acquire power through repetition, creating an illusion of truth. Such dangers lead the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Journalism Ethics in their three-prong approach to spreading the truth this election season.
Meet the team.
The NEP leadership team oversees project development, execution, and evaluation. We are a core group of educators and researchers dedicated to keeping ethics front and center in education. Deni Elliott serves as chief project officer for the NEP, and along with Cara Biasucci, Andrew Cullison, Casey Frechette, David Kidd, Jess Miner, and Anne Newman, serve on the executive board for the NEP. The Prindle Institute at DePauw University provides the NEP an institutional home.
NEP BOARD MEMBER: INSTITUTIONAL PARTNER (UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN)
Cara Biasucci is Creator of Ethics Unwrapped, and Director of Ethics Education for the Center for Leadership and Ethics at The University of Texas at Austin.
NEP Board Member: Institutional Host
Dr. Cullison is Phyllis W. Nicholas Director of the Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University.
NEP Board Member: Chief Project Officer
Dr. Elliott holds the Poynter Jamison Chair in Media Ethics at the University of South Florida and is the Interim Regional Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Vice-Provost for USF’s St. Petersburg campus.
NEP Board Member: Institutional Partner (University of South Florida)
Dr. Frechette is an associate professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the chair of the Department of Journalism & Digital Communication.
NEP Board Member: At Large
David Kidd is chief assessment scientist at the Democratic Knowledge Project and is based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero.
NEP Board Member: Institutional Partner (Edmond J. Safra Center For Ethics, Harvard)
Jess Miner is the Executive Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Edmond J. Safra Research Director, ex officio.
NEP Board Member: Institutional Partner (McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, Stanford)
Anne Newman is the Research Director at the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford.
Mission & objectives
The NEP creates and fosters a sustainable and evolving community of researchers, educators, practitioners, and policymakers devoted to improving how we identify and implement ethics education. Our research investigates institutional messaging, instructor and student experiences, and practices of ethics education. Our goals are to create high-impact tools for assessing ethics education and to provide educational resources that meet the needs of a changing world.
Progress to date
Seed grants from the Spencer Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, along with financial commitments from our partner institutions, have enabled the NEP to build a solid foundation for ongoing research. Our mixed-methods research projects have investigated the institution, instructor, and student perspective of ethics instruction, both in and outside of the classroom. To date, NEP has conducted research on multiple campuses and developed new analytical tools that promise to overhaul the way we view and study ethics education in higher education.
Here is an overview of some of the NEP’s current projects:
- A web-scraping and coding tool locates and classifies institutional commitments to ethics education and helps assess those commitments in relation to how they are operationalized on campuses
- A matrix of ethics indicators provides a roadmap for automated and manual review of institutions' ethical climates and cultures
- A custom-designed dictionary tool that identifies courses in which ethical issues are central by ranking more than 300 relevant terms
- An instructor learning theory survey links assessment measures to a diverse set of instructors’ own learning goals
- A student survey that allows direct evaluation of the alignment of student experiences and instructor goals in ethics education.
- A student interview guide that elicits student perceptions of where and how salient ethics education occurs on campus, and what ethical dilemmas are most pressing to students
- Prototypes for curricular interventions, in and outside classes, to address unmet needs for ethical reflection expressed by students in interviews
Current partner institutions include Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, DePauw University’s Prindle Institute for Ethics, Stanford University’s McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, University of South Florida’s Department of Journalism & Digital Communication, University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Leadership and Ethics and the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.