Cultivating Character Colleges Are Taking the Teaching of Ethics and Morals More Seriously

By Mark Clayton, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, June 15, 1999 | Go to article overview

Cultivating Character Colleges Are Taking the Teaching of Ethics and Morals More Seriously


Mark Clayton, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Like hundreds of other freshmen at Pennsylvania State's University Park campus each fall, Brad Nestico arrived ready to study - and party - hard.

Soon he had joined a fraternity and was part of a drinking culture. About that time, though, Penn State was ramping up its anti- "binge-drinking" program: late-night movies, comedians, and dances.

But in a departure from schools with similar programs, Penn State homed in on an oft-touted, little-implemented ideal of American higher education: character. The 1990s have seen increased focus on K-12 character development - especially in the wake of recent school shootings. But the "character" question has also been steadily creeping back into the less-likely arena of college life. Recent student deaths from alcohol abuse, date rape, hazing, and cheating have college presidents increasingly looking to character education as a tool. But the goal isn't an ethics discussion. By some estimates, 10,000 courses on applied ethics - business, nursing, accounting - are scattered across America's higher-education landscape. Yet only a few hundred of the nation's 4,000-plus colleges and universities - many of them small, religious liberal-arts schools - try to educate character across the curriculum. "Higher education is rediscovering a mission it has had from the beginning," Elizabeth Hollander, director of Campus Compact, a national service-learning program at Brown University in Providence, R.I. That has translated into "educating the character of a new generation of students for the sake of our democracy, and not simply training them for work." Since the 1960s, student demands for more control over their academic lives and court rulings led colleges and society to consider college-bound students adults and think of their education as "value neutral." Graham Spanier, president of Penn State, says the tendency among large public universities, until the past five years, was to move away from character issues. But that laissez faire attitude is breaking down. "What we're seeing now throughout the nation is people at universities like ours paying more attention than ever before to character issues," he says. "In meetings I've had with other presidents, it's much more of a topic now." Arthur Schwartz, director of character development programs at the John Templeton Foundation in Philadelphia, whose job is ferreting out colleges and universities that do a good job instructing on character issues, also says the pendulum is swinging back." Mr. Spanier, Mr. Hollander, Mr. Schwartz and others point to signs of change: *For the first time in memory, university presidents say, fellow presidents are talking about character and implementing programs focusing on "civic values" - what it means to be a good citizen - even if they are still tentative about delving into educating "personal moral values." *"Service learning" that combines academic teaching with experience - often in volunteer-work that focuses on civic values - has exploded. Formal programs are in place on at least 620 campuses today, compared with 120 a decade ago, Hollander says. *This fall, a new college guide by the John Templeton Foundation will profile 600 "colleges that encourage character development" in a dozen categories. The idea is to enable college-bound students and their parents to examine character-building at an institution alongside financial aid, academics, and other rankings. *Research into character education and higher education is getting new attention by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Templeton, and other organizations. *The increase in alcohol-and-substance abuse, date rape, cheating and other problems on campus is prompting authorities to look beyond traditional solutions toward programs that involve values education. "Our challenge is greater today because students are coming to us from troubled backgrounds," says Dr. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cultivating Character Colleges Are Taking the Teaching of Ethics and Morals More Seriously
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.