2024-25 Catalog

Center for Ethics

Website:  www.ethicscenter.cas.lehigh.edu

Steering Committee:  Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Economics; Eric P.S. Baumer, Computer Science and Engineering; Paolo Bocchini, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Dena Davis, Religion Studies;  Michael Gill, Psychology; Chad Kautzer, Philosophy; Nitzan Lebovic, History; Naomi Rothman, Management; Lorenzo Servitje, English and Health, Medicine and Society; Lloyd Steffen, University Chaplain and Religion Studies; Monica Miller, Religion.

Emeritus:  Robin S. Dillon, PhD (University of Pittsburgh)

The interdisciplinary academic Center for Ethics promotes rigorous inquiry into, probing reflection on, and responsible engagement with the ethical dimensions of life from the personal to the global.

Ethics has to do with issues of action, character, and governing values, with questions about right and wrong, good and evil, worthiness and unworthiness, justice and injustice, with matters of individual and collective responsibility, respect and discrimination, war and peace, and with the norms, habits, and systems that make the persons we are, the lives we live, and the societies in which we live together, better or worse. Ultimately, ethics concerns how we ought to live, individually and collectively. Ethical concepts, issues, questions, norms, and systems can be studied philosophically, psychologically, sociologically, anthropologically, historically, politically; ethical inquiry engages the natural and applied sciences and engineering and addresses concerns in economics and business; ethical questions are explored in religion and literature and through artistic expression.

The Center's organizing perspective is that there is no aspect of human beings, no space in human lives, that does not have ethical dimensions—our intrapersonal lives, our interpersonal relations, as well as the educational, professional, familial, social, cultural, religious, artistic, political, economic, environmental, scientific, and global dimensions of our lives together. The ethics domain thus encompasses all aspects of Lehigh University.

Research and Educational Activities

The Center for Ethics, which serves the entire Lehigh community, has three principal aims:

  • Enhance student engagement with ethical issues and ethical decision-making
  • Foster research in ethics and ethical issues
  • Promote public ethics education

The Center functions in two ways. First, it provides resources to support, coordinate, and expand existing ethics-related educational and research activities and programs at Lehigh, thus highlighting and promoting the wide-range of opportunities to engage with ethical issues across the university and in the wider community. 

Second, the Center focuses attention on vital but difficult questions and creates new opportunities for engagement with ethical issues in the following ways:

  • Bringing to campus ethics leaders from academia, business, civic organizations, government, through the Peter S. Hagerman ’61 Lecture in Ethics series;
  • Supporting and enhancing curricular, co-curricular, and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in every discipline to develop and apply intellectual tools that will enable them to identify, understand, and deliberate well about ethical issues;
  • Nurturing cutting-edge research and scholarship, especially interdisciplinary work, that addresses both current ethical challenges and enduring moral questions;
  • Organizing thought-provoking and penetrating explorations of, and informed and unbiased discussions about, the most important ethical problems of our times;
  • Taking a major role in fulfilling Lehigh’s responsibility to be a leader in public education about ethical issues and approaches to addressing them, and providing a resource of ethics expertise to the wider community.

The Center for Ethics engages with the connections and challenges of the multiplicity of ethical worldviews on our campus, in our communities and nation, and globally and cross-culturally. The Center thus serves to

  • advance the study and practice of ethics;
  • enrich the quality of understanding of, discussions about, and deliberation and decision-making concerning moral questions, issues, and problems;
  • assist students to become engaged, ethically sensitive citizens who are well-prepared to grapple with the difficult life-choices and ethical challenges they face at Lehigh and will face after graduation; and
  •  catalyze ethical leadership.

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