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Engaged Ethics Initiative Pilots Take Off

Funded by President DeGioia, the undergraduate educational projects of the Engaged Ethics Initiative have begun to take shape. There are three pilot programs, divided among three different areas: Student Engagement, EthicsLab, and Residential Life.

The Student Engagement funds go to students’ Engaged Ethics projects. Georgetown University students Meghan O’Hearn (2012), Meghan O’Reilly (2013), and Joseph Mekhail (2013) received the initial grant, and they are conducting an independent research project on diarrheal disease in Calcutta (Kolkata), India. The goal of the project is to determine successful strategies for mitigating the effects of diarrheal disease in Calcutta. The team was in India for two weeks — March 29th through April 12th — for the interview phase of the research project, and they met with public health and NGO officials.

EthicsLab is a new undergraduate curricular initiative that is a partnership of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, the Bioethics Research Library, and the Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS). This semester, Maggie Little, Director of the KIE, and Randy Bass, Director of CNDLS, are team-teaching “Bioethics and the Moral Imagination,” which explores four core topics in bioethics: birth, death, illness and disability, and sexuality, through the lenses of social justice and rights, flourishing, and the boundaries of humanness. Throughout, the course explores issues in law, policy, human values, and personal morality at the same time it explores issues of representation, imagination, and communication, including the ways that writing and expressive forms shape the ways we understand and act around these fundamental issues. Students work with a wide range of materials, including ethical theory, personal narratives, film, and Web-based media.

The Environmental Justice Living Learning Community is the third of the pilot programs; it aims to allow students to address problems of environmental justice as a part of their life in the dorms. The learning community, set to start in fall 2012, is the result of a partnership between the Office of Residence Life and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. The pilot provides first-year students with the chance to explore issues like environmental racism, the Food/Energy/Water problem, and sustainability (among others) by taking part in various dorm-based programs, field trips, community garden projects, and reflection through multimedia (including digital media projects). The community will be a co-curricular experience in which participating students will be expected to take a specially selected philosophy bridge course that addresses issues of environmental justice.