For the 2019-20 academic year, the monthly seminar “Consideration in Ethics”, which was previously mandatory for juniors to attend, has been put on pause. This decision has left some students wondering why.
Before touching on the reason for pausing the seminar, let us look back to remind ourselves how it began. For years, Dr. Lee Eysturlid wondered why the teaching of ethics was not integrated into IMSA’s classes, especially when its mission statement claimed to ignite ethical minds. With Dr. Robert Kiely’s help, he proposed to then-president Max McGee that the school engage students in ethics education. A plan for an ethics class was accepted, solidified, and implemented, becoming “Consideration in Ethics”.
When Dr. Torres assumed IMSA’s presidency, he began to re-examine the purpose of this seminar. After attending many sessions between 2015 through 2017 and almost every session during the 2018-19 academic year, he came to the realization that it appeared the purpose of the seminar was to make students aware that there is a field of ethics. Unfortunately, this purpose did not align fully with IMSA’s mission to ignite ethical minds. As Dr. Torres explained, “There’s a difference between teaching people that there’s a field of ethics and helping them to become ethical. It’s like saying ‘we’re going to teach people that there is a scientific method and that there are scientists out there, but we’re not going to teach them how to do science’.”
This realization led Dr. Torres to pause the seminar until a curriculum which truly teaches students how to be ethical could be established. The president believes the seminar could center around a single theory of ethics, rather than merely introducing students to several normative ethical theories. He also hopes that the classes can focus on the applications of ethics to other fields. Lastly, he plans to gather a group of individuals to build and implement this curriculum. At the moment, this idea is still in its early stages of development, as no decisions have yet been made regarding which theory or theories of ethics to teach, which fields to integrate with ethics, and which individuals will be members of the team overseeing these changes.
For students who were hoping to gain a deep understanding of ethics, there’s still hope! Dr. Eysturlid stated that, if students show interest, he would consider creating an elective on ethics.