Lincoln Center to introduce master’s degrees in applied ethics

Published On:
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
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The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics has introduced two new master’s degree programs in applied ethics to prepare students for real-world ethical dilemmas and situations.

The first program, applied ethics and the professions, will launch this fall and includes five concentrations: leadership, management and ethics; biomedical ethics; sustainability and environmental ethics; and ethics and emerging technologies. An additional concentration in pastoral care ethics and spirituality is awaiting approval.

Peter French, director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, said he is excited for the new program to begin, as ASU is the first university to have an applied ethics program that is spread over many areas of study.

“Each [part] is trying to focus on some area where ASU is taking a leadership role and bringing to light the ethical side,” he said.

And the new master’s programs are truly interdisciplinary, French said, as classes from many different programs, like the School of Public Affairs and the College of Law, will be brought together to form the degree.

“What we were able to do [was] look at what’s out there already, in terms of courses that are offered, and then combine those courses with some other structural courses to provide master’s-level training,” French said.

The second program, the applied ethics and the professions executive concentration, will be introduced in fall 2010 and be administered completely online, French said.

The program will focus on the GRINN technologies — genomics, robotics, information technologies, neurosciences and nanotechnologies — at a management level. As these technologies are advancing across the world, French said the program will be more beneficial if it is directed online so students anywhere can participate.

“Where are all these technologies being developed? Well, everywhere,” he said. “We’re trying to take the lead and make [the degree] available to people anywhere in the world.”

Each concentration will focus on real-world ethical problems and will be geared toward students who may be dealing with these situations in their line of work, said Braden Allenby, civil and environmental engineering professor and coordinator of the sustainability and environmental ethics concentration.

Allenby said the concentration will be more of an applied study than a strictly academic program, which will be beneficial in real-world implementation.

“[We are] beginning to try to create ethical structures or ideas that [students] can apply in very new situations that may not, on the surface, pertain much to sustainability,” Allenby said. “If we can teach and help [students] to understand how to think, then they’ll be able to adjust in new situations,”

Jason Robert, professor of ethics in biotechnology and medicine and coordinator of the biomedical ethics concentration, said he agreed that teaching students how to apply knowledge of ethics in current situations is the goal of the program. On the biomedical ethics track, students will focus on learning how medicine works and the morals attached to the practice of medicine.

“[Students are] going to learn about ethical, cultural and social issues throughout medicine from bench to bedside,” Robert said.

The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics is currently accepting applications for applied ethics and the professions in all five concentrations at lincolncenter.asu.edu/students_MADegree. There is no deadline to apply for the program.

Reach the reporter at abigail.gilmore@asu.edu.