Ethics in the College: Past, Present, and Future

Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley (2000)

This work examines the ways in which ethical ideas, goals, actions, and meaning pervade the life of twenty-first century higher education institutions and the careers of those who lead and work within them. It focuses on three main themes: the philosophical and social context of higher education, including the theoretical origins of the present experience of moral distress the extent to which higher education can and should "teach values," and the historical development of higher education in Europe and America related to the ethical purposes and aims of education; ethics in the academy, including the manner in which ethical ideas, issues, and values arise and intersect at three levels of organizational functioning, and ethical education in the twenty-first century, a principled conception of education based on the assumption that, in a modern pluralistic society, individuals will hold multiple reasonable comprehensive conceptions of the good. ;The work demonstrates that, in spite of changing views of higher education and a general reluctance on the part of contemporary educators to address questions of value, ethical considerations are in fact central to the life and concerns of the modern American college. It argues that the complex problems confronting American higher education demand that we cultivate leaders who are willing and able to evaluate the ethical dimensions of the issues coming before them. It suggests that campuses that succeed in addressing administrative, teaching, and curricular issues at the level of the ethical will position their institutions more strongly to respond to change. It affirms, also, that clarity of thought and practice on the part of faculty and campus leaders with regard to the ethical considerations involved in a wide range of campus issues will, in the present climate, serve the public interest and enhance the belief that higher education institutions can and are willing to respond to public concerns
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