Students, faculty and community members engage with questions of sustainability at Santa Fe College’s October 2019 Ethics Slam

Ethics Bowl was the springboard for campus-wide ethics at Santa Fe College, a public community college in Gainesville, FL. Although the team won the national two-year college competition twice in four years, that was only the beginning.

Philosopher Ann Thebaut still coaches the ethics bowl team, but also directs a new 3-year NEH grant, “Engaging in Ethics: Promoting the Good Life Through Ethics Education,” which she wrote.

The grant provides resources to engage students in ethics on campus and in the community. Students and community members talk about today’s inescapable ethics questions in ethics improv gatherings. They discuss Ethics Bowl questions with retired professors and professionals to gain a broader perspective. On campus, faculty infuse ethics within existing curriculum and an ethics center is being planned. Santa Fe College is on its way to being one of a few U.S. community colleges to offer students a certificate in applied and professional ethics.

As students primarily come to Santa Fe focused on vocational goals, engaging in ethics encourages them to reflect on their personal values and helps them develop a sense of obligation to the community, according to Dr. Thebaut. Civic engagement, which is at the core of the certificate program, she said, “teaches students to think about how their decisions impact other people and the responsibilities that they have as members of society.”

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