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.
Elaine Englehardt was an instructor at the Utah Technical College in 1986 when she designed the first grant-funded Ethics Across the Curriculum (EAC) program. The National Endowment for the Humanities agreed that a required course in ethics might help the 1,700 vocationally minded students to examine their own lives.
If innovation is to be responsible, consideration of a technology’s ethical and social dimensions must be made a systematic part of the innovation process. Notre Dame Professor Mark Bourgeois wrote his successful Responsible Innovation NSF proposal with that goal in mind.
A university ethics center founded on a Presidential apology for unethical research has practical application written into its DNA. Today, The National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care at Tuskegee University continues a 20 plus-year tradition of addressing health, health disparities and social justice.
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 and Maggie Schein serve as project co-officers 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: At Large
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: Project Co-Officer
Dr. Elliott holds the Poynter Jamison Chair in Media Ethics at the University of South Florida.
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.
NEP Board Member: Project Co-Officer
Dr. Schein, formerly the Research Director for the Humanities and Liberal Arts Assessment Lab (Harvard University), is currently the Writer in Residence at the Prindle Institute for Ethics.
She consults and teaches in education, moral psychology, ethics, literature, assessment, and management. She is an author of both fiction and non-fiction, and is currently working on a book on cruelty (Cruelty: A Book about Us) and management (Let Me be More Explicit: Memos on how Not to Manage).
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, and the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.