7

ETHICS ACROSS THE CURRICULUM

In 1990, IIT's Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions received a grant of more than $210,000 from the National Science Foundation to try a campus-wide approach to integrating professional ethics into the technical curriculum. In 1996, the Center received another $100,000 to continue the project, with the emphasis on passing on to other institutions what was learned at IIT. 1 I was the principal investigator under both grants. In this chapter, I describe what we at IIT did, what we learned, and what others, especially philosophers, can learn from us about teaching professional ethics in the university. We set out to develop an approach that others could profitably adopt. I believe that we succeeded.


Background: the problem

Professional ethics are-as I have said-special (morally permissible) standards of conduct governing members of a particular profession because they are members of that profession. Engineering ethics applies to engineers, legal ethics to lawyers, and so on. Institutional ethics, though similar, are still distinct. Institutional ethics are special standards of conduct governing all those connected in a certain way with a particular institution because they are so connected. Business ethics applies to all those in business (whatever their profession), research ethics to all those doing research, and so on. Though important for some purposes, this distinction is not important here. I shall therefore ignore it in what follows. I shall use “professional ethics” to refer to both professional and institutional ethics. 2

Because they are special standards, professional ethics are more than mere ordinary morality or common sense. Like other special

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