Ethics project embarks on an enlightened endeavor

Rebecca Stanley

The relevance of ethics in day to day life is often a second thought, but UT wants to change this with the creation of the new Ethics Project.

The project, which started Tuesday, includes lectures and discussions on ethics applicable to all fields, ranging from immigration to artificial intelligence. The end goal is to establish a permanent ethics center and possible bioethics program on campus.

Retired nursing professor Joy Penticuff, who focused on ethics in healthcare, is aiding philosophy professor Paul Woodruff with the project.

“I think we’re at a turning point,” Penticuff said. “Look at the myriad of issues we’re living in right now. People, for example, at the Dell Medical School are looking at practical ethics. How are we related to each other as human beings? What do we people of means owe people who are less fortunate than we are?”

Current required university ethics flag courses fall short of emphasizing the importance of ethics outside the classroom, Penticuff said.

“The courses don’t necessarily give students the kind of enthusiasm about how important ethics is in their personal and professional lives,” Penticuff said. “The thought of the ethics project is to raise the awareness of people, of the choices that are out there and what our commitments are.”

The project’s assistant, Alicia Armijo, said the initiative aims to become a valuable educational resource to the University and to expand existing programs on campus.

“It’s a nice way of bringing all of these great people together and to give a more interdisciplinary approach to their education,” Armijo, philosophy graduate student, said. “One of the other things the project is hoping to offer students is a certificate program in bioethics.”

The project has the potential to become a space for multidisciplinary ethical discourse, Penticuff said.  

“I might have a whole different perspective from a student of philosophy,” Penticuff said. “I need to talk to people who don’t agree with me, or with people who are directly affected. Communities of color for example. We need to get together and define the problem.”

Brittany Bazaldua, human development and family sciences sophomore, said she is interested in the possibility of a bioethics certificate.
“(The bioethics certificate) would be helpful since many of our peers are looking to change the world through science,” Bazaldua said in an email.