University Ethics

How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics

By (author) James F. Keenan

Publication date:

14 May 2015

Length of book:

292 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442223721

Stories about ethical issues at universities make headlines every day. From sexual violence to racial conflict, from the treatment of adjuncts to cheating, students, professors, and administrators face countless ethical trials. And yet, very few resources exist to assist universities in developing an ethical culture. University Ethics addresses this challenge. Each chapter studies a facet of university life—including athletics, gender, faculty accountability, and more—highlights the ethical hotspots, explains why they occur, and proposes best practices.

Professional ethics are a key component of training for numerous other fields, such as business management, medicine, law, and journalism, but there is no prescribed course of study for the academy. Professors and administrators are not trained in standards for evaluating papers, colleagues, boundaries, or contracts.
University Ethics not only examines the ethical problems that colleges face one by one but proposes creating an integrated culture of ethics university-wide that fosters the institution’s mission and community. In an environment plagued by university scandals, University Ethics is essential reading for anyone connected to higher education today.
Keenan, who has written/edited some 16 books on theology and ethics, claims that the absence of an institutional ethical culture facilitates aberrant behaviors in US higher education. Universities offer courses in ethics but not in ethics as related to higher education institutions. Keenan considers ethical concerns with contingent versus tenure-line faculty; marginalization of university students and employees; dishonesty on the parts of students, faculty, and administrators; undergraduate carousing practices and violence; male-female inequities; disinterest in (or insensitivity to) differences; and the situation of international students. He points out that institutional levels are responsible for specific aspects of university life; accordingly, faculty, staff, students, and administrators remain unaware of one another’s struggles. And he argues that a prevailing culture of consumerism and consumption is largely responsible for condoning, even promoting, unethical behaviors. Keenan concludes with a call for collaboration among all involved with higher education to actively advance ethical behavior in their institutions. Providing just enough historical context, Keenan uses a narrative reporting style, interweaving research and relevant literature, scholarship, and media reports to develop his story and support his assertions. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels.