News  |  ,   |  January 23, 2018

Encouraging an Ethical Ethos: How and why DePauw cultivates moral reasoning skills in its students

News article by Mary Dieter.
Published in The Boulder. DePauw University.


In the long-running debate in higher education over whether ethics can be taught in college, DePauw University has, since its founding, come down firmly on the side of “yes.”

The belief was alive in 1837, when the Methodist Church founded the school that would become DePauw and deemed it “forever to be conducted on the most liberal principles, accessible to all religious denominations and designed for the benefit of our citizens in general.”

Then, in 2007, DePauw affirmed the conviction when it opened the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics, joining a small contingent of institutions of higher learning that put ethics front and center….

No one keeps tabs on how and how often ethics are taught in higher education, but preliminary data suggest that ethics training is pervasive at DePauw. Shortly after the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics chose to locate its national headquarters at Prindle, DePauw was invited in March 2017 to join the National Ethics Project, which was launched to gather such data. Other partners in the project are Harvard and Stanford universities, the University of South Florida and The Citadel. Prindle recently was identified as the project’s clearinghouse for data.

Course catalogs from DePauw and Harvard were used as guinea pigs to test the tool the project will use to capture data. “The research director at Harvard said . . . ‘DePauw’s came out at about 90 percent, so I think there’s a problem with the tool,’” Cullison recalls. “I said, ‘or maybe there’s not a problem with the tool.’ We really do have more ethics-y classes because of the way our professors have been structuring their classes.” . . .