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Ethics training expanded

Program for graduate students now lasts a full year

Two years ago, Arts and Sciences graduate students received no formal training in ethics. Now, ethics are a part of their studies year round, thanks to the expansion of the Graduate Ethics Program. The program, established last year, requires that all first-year Arts and Sciences graduate students undergo training in the basic principles of professional ethics.

"Our goal is to have students and faculty communicate with each other before [an ethical issue] becomes a problem."

- Kerry Landers

In the first phase of the program, Ron Green, Director of the Ethics Institute and Professor of Religion, and Aine Donovan, Executive Director of the Ethics Institute, trained 20 facilitators, including senior faculty members, post-doctoral students and graduate students. In addition, first-year orientation for Arts and Science graduate students included an examination of Robert Martin's play, Stampede of Zebras, a study of the ethical problems that scientists may face. Students acted out and discussed four scenes from the play. Faculty members and graduate students from several departments provided insight into the ethical dilemmas depicted.

In the second phase, begun this fall, students engage in four ethics discussions over the year. The topics of the sessions include professionalism, data collection, mentoring, authorship and peer review. In the spring, these sessions will culminate in a colloquium on ethics in science.

"Our goal is to have students and faculty communicate with each other before [an ethical issue] becomes a problem," said Kerry Landers, Assistant Dean, Graduate Studies Program.

Also in the first phase, students filled out a survey on ethics, which required them to closely read Dartmouth's manual on how to use sources and the academic honor code. They then accepted the terms of the honor code.

The program was started to meet new demands that funding agencies have been making of all graduate schools when it comes to ethics, and to deal effectively with ethical challenges, Landers said.

The ethics program is a joint effort of the Graduate Studies Office and the Ethics Institute at Dartmouth.

By MATT LEWIS '05

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08