Yearlong series at IU's Poynter Center focuses on 'Future of Professional Ethics'

  • Sept. 17, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University’s Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions will coordinate a yearlong series of workshops and discussions of ethical issues facing professionals and the professions now and in the future.

A collaboration by 12 IU schools and departments, the Future of Professional Ethics series is supported by matching funds from the College of Arts and Sciences Ostrom Grants Program. Each workshop will be hosted by a different sponsor and feature an interdisciplinary panel and a nationally noted speaker.

The series begins Sept. 25 with a workshop featuring a keynote address by Steve Salbu, an expert on business and professional ethics. The series is part of a national Year of Conversation on the Future of Practical and Professional Ethics organized by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, which has been hosted by the Poynter Center since its founding 25 years ago.

Stuart Yoak, executive director of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, said discussions of ethical behavior in business, government and the professions are now commonplace, unlike when the organization was created a generation ago.

“The task now is how to prepare the next generation of leaders and employees to face the complex ethical challenges of working in a global environment with ever-advancing technology and uncertainty,” Yoak said. “This is why the Poynter Center’s series of programs on the Future of Professional Ethics is so important. The IU programs and the APPE Year of Conversation are bringing together business and government leaders, professionals and educators to share ideas and develop effective strategies we can take back to the classroom and the workplace.”

The workshops organized by the Poynter Center will identify ethical issues facing professions and professionals and provide a foundation for research, curricula and strengthened cross-disciplinary relationships among students, faculty and departments. All the workshops will be free and open to the public. Discussions will be compiled for publication and disseminated widely.

The Sept. 25 event, “Professions and Professionals in Society: Service vs. Money,” will take place from 9 a.m. to noon in Hodge Hall 1030. A theme is that vital needs often go unmet because providing pro bono professional services is not practical for young professionals burdened by student loan debt. The session will explore mechanisms that could overcome such obstacles.

Salbu, the keynote speaker, is the Cecil B. Day Chair in Business Ethics and former dean of Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business, where he leads a program that seeks to instill standards and skills to make good ethical decisions. Before joining Georgia Tech 2006, he was an associate dean at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. Previously an editorial board member of Business Ethics Quarterly, he has published extensively in the areas of business ethics and law.

IU faculty members Carwina Weng, director of the Disability Law Clinic in the IU Maurer School of Law, and Jim Kelly, associate professor of journalism in the Media School, will serve as panelists.

Dates, topics and speakers for additional workshops in the series include:

  • Nov. 13, “Committed Professionals: Structural Obstacles to Ethics.” Keynote speaker is Lisa M. Lee, executive director of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.
  • Jan. 29, “Navigating Professional Careers: Challenges in a Shifting Economy.” Keynote speaker is Trish Tchume, founding executive director of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.
  • April 1, “The Media(ted) World: Media Professions and Professional Media.” Keynote speaker is Clifford Christians, professor emeritus of communications, media and journalism, University of Illinois.
  • June 9, “Professionalism in Education: Harassment, Bullying and Ethics.” Keynote speaker is Michael Gregory, clinical professor of law, Harvard Education Law Clinic.

More information will be available at the Poynter Center website.

The Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions is an endowed ethics research center dedicated to studying a broad range of ethical issues in American public life. Interdisciplinary in aim, the center uses the resources of Indiana University to initiate research and teaching across traditional academic boundaries. It was established in 1972 with funding from the late Nelson Poynter, an IU alumnus and chairman of the board of Times Publishing Co., and now resides in the Media School.

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