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Updated 10:00 AM October 31, 2005
 

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  Ethics in Public Life
Nov. 9 forum to address academic integrity

A student just finished taking an exam and a classmate who claims to have missed it because of illness wants a debriefing as to what is on the test. Should the student help her? A roommate has a paper due in class tomorrow but hasn't written a word so he goes to the Internet and finds the exact analysis he needs, re-writes a couple of paragraphs, puts his name at the top and calls it his own. Should the roommate confront him?

The first in a series of public forums on ethics in public life, titled "Academic Integrity and the U-M Undergrad: Are We Doing What We Should Be?," will be held 7-9 p.m. Nov. 9 in the Pendleton Room of the Michigan Union. The campus community is invited.

The inaugural forum is one aspect of a University-wide presidential initiative to foster moral deliberation about wide-ranging public issues and promote thoughtful and meaningful responses to the sorts of lapses in ethical behavior witnessed recently on the national and international scene. Organizers hope it will begin a dialogue about how the University can lead the effort to raise awareness of such issues through education and public discourse.

"The goal with this first forum is to engage students in the discussion with scenarios that are very realistic," says Marvin Krislov, vice president and general counsel and co-chair of the Presidential Task Force on Ethics in Public Life. "Together as a community we will discuss ethical issues we face on campus and share thoughts on how students can prepare for moral challenges beyond the academic setting."

Although the first event will focus on student ethical dilemmas, task force co-chair John Chamberlin, professor of public policy in the Gerald R. Ford School and professor of political science in LSA, says the entire community is encouraged to participate in the forum.

"By observing the students' reactions to these very real scenarios and engaging in discussions with them, faculty and staff will come away with a better understanding of the ethical issues students wrestle with regularly," Chamberlin says. "The sessions are designed so that participants can reflect on their contributions to an ethical environment on campus, and can discuss their obligations to themselves, their colleagues, their instructors and the University."

Michigan Student Assembly President Jesse Levine says he hopes students walk away from the forum with an understanding of how successful leaders on campus and outside of the University have become models for "how to act and behave in this world."

"Our generation has seen some great ethical challenges," Levine says. "We need to reinforce ethical character on campus so that students can take that with them after graduation."

In her State of the University address in 2004, President Mary Sue Coleman announced ethics in public life as one of four presidential initiatives. The task force met throughout the last academic year and issued a report this fall with recommendations that include the series of forums and an expansion of course offerings on the subject of ethics.

Last month Coleman announced her plan to dedicate $3 million to two of the four presidential initiatives, with $2.5 million going to the development of multi-disciplinary courses and $500,000 to implement the forum and curriculum development recommendations of the ethics in public life task force.

A steering committee has been appointed to lead the initiative, shape curriculum and guide the monthly forums. Members are: Gary Fenstermacher, professor, School of Education; Steven Wright, professor of civil & environmental engineering, College of Engineering (CoE); David Hess, assistant professor of business law, Stephen M. Ross School of Business; Deborah Dash Moore, Frederick G L Huetwell Professor of History and director, Judaic Studies Program, LSA; Steve Darwall, John Dewey Collegiate Professor of Philosophy, director, LSA Honors Program; Monita Thompson, co-director, the Program on Intergroup Relations; Susan Goold, associate professor of internal medicine, Medical School; Derek Collins, associate professor of Greek and Latin, LSA; Peter Jacobson, professor of health management and policy, School of Public Health; Michael Kennedy, professor of sociology, director, Center for European Studies, Center for Russian & East European Studies, and European Union Center; Robert Megginson, professor of mathematics, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate education, LSA; Elizabeth Mann undergraduate student, LSA; Monique Hutcherson, undergraduate student, CoE; Anthony Jackson, doctoral student, CoE; Connie Cook, director, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching; Catherine Shaw, special assistant, Office of the Provost; Lisa Jeffreys, project specialist, and Gary Krenz, special counsel to the president, Office of the President; Levine; Chamberlin; and Krislov.

To view the task force report, go to: http://www.umich.edu/pres/committees/ethics_final_report.pdf.

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