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Case students explore real-life ethical issues

A generous gift from The 1525 Foundation will enable Case Western Reserve University to provide undergraduate students with a grounding in practical ethics through new courses, research projects and discussions about ways to cope with ethical choices that arise in daily life.

The $100,000 donation supports the new Beamer-Schneider SAGES Fellows—visiting scholars and professionals who have demonstrated a commitment to the teaching of ethics. During each of the next two years, five Beamer-Schneider fellows will design and teach undergraduate seminars in which ethical reflection plays an integral role. Some of the fellows also will participate in a newly announced Beamer-Schneider lecture series that focuses on ethical challenges in social policy and the professions.

"We hope the students will obtain an appreciation of the many conflicts of interest that come to all of us and learn how to judge what presents an ethical problem and how to cope with it," said Phillip A. Ranney, secretary-treasurer of The 1525 Foundation. "We are not looking at this as a way to teach ethical philosophy or codes of life. Instead, we want students to come away better equipped to deal with real-life situations."

According to Ranney, the foundation's gift honors the late Elmer G. Beamer and Hubert H. Schneider, longtime advisors and associates of Kent H. Smith, a former university trustee (1949), acting president of Case (1958-61), and founder of the Lubrizol Corporation.

The foundation previously donated $2 million to endow the Beamer-Schneider Professorship in Ethics. The first holder of that chair, Caroline Whitbeck, is professor of philosophy and director of the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science, one of the first web-based professional ethics resources of its kind. During the summers of 1996 and 1997, the foundation also supported ethics institutes for Case faculty, directed by law school professor Robert P. Lawry and his Center for Professional Ethics.

Ethics is a key component of the university's vision as it seeks to create one of the world's most powerful learning environments and to transform students through their educational experience at Case.

The visiting fellows will teach in Case's major curricular initiative, the Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship (SAGES). Under SAGES, students from every Case school or college that grants undergraduate degrees—arts and sciences, engineering, management and nursing—enroll in small, interdisciplinary seminars that emphasize active inquiry. Such seminars provide an ideal setting for students with diverse interests and backgrounds to join together for discussion of ethical issues.

The first Beamer-Schneider SAGES Fellows and their seminars for 2005-06 are:

  • Douglas Knerr, associate professor of social sciences at Roosevelt University, has designed two seminars "Home, Hearth and Housing: An Exploration of Domestic Culture in the U.S." and "Business and Society"—in fall 2005.
  • Karen Grochau, president of the consulting firm Hightower & Swan and former director of Case's Arts Management Program will lead the seminar "Ethics of Organizational Behavior: The Nonprofit Sector" next spring. Grochau earned her Ph.D. in organizational behavior from the Weatherhead School of Management.
  • Eric Kodish, chair of the department of bioethics at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and professor of bioethics, pediatrics and oncology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case, will teach a spring seminar on "Children in Research: Ethical Implications," the topic of an edited volume he recently published with Oxford University Press.
  • Edward G. Lawry, professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University, created two seminars on "Personal Morality in Affluent Societies" that he will teach in spring 2006. Lawry has published widely in the fields of ethics and aesthetics; his most recent work addresses the place of ethical obligations and ideals within a flourishing human life.
  • Trudy Lieberman, president of the Association of Health Care Journalists, will lead two seminars next spring: "Conflicting Images of a Free Press" and "Ethics of Health Care Delivery." Lieberman is the author of five books and has won 17 journalism awards, including two National Magazine Awards and nine National Press Club Awards.

"The fellows' active involvement in SAGES, and their interactions with our full-time faculty, will help us enhance the role of ethics in the general education curriculum for all Case undergraduates," said Mark Turner, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "We are tremendously grateful for the continuing support of The 1525 Foundation, which for more than a decade has guided our efforts in this critical area."

"The Beamer-Schneider initiative has served as an important precedent and model for other ethic-related activities at Case," said Turner. He cited the Inamori Foundation's recent $10-million gift to endow the Inamori Professorship in Ethics and establish the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence. Case is also home to the Center for Genetic Research in Ethics and Law, established with a $5.3 million gift from the National Human Genome Research Institute.

 

About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work. http://www.case.edu.