To educate students as responsible professionals, to reflect on the wider implications of scientific progress, and to contribute to the shaping of technology in accordance with fundamental human values.
The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP) will be an internationally connected ethics center with a focus on professional and applied ethics, integrating ethics education into the colleges and departments of Illinois Tech, and engaging in research and public dialogue at a local and global level.
We seek to:
- Enhance the distinctive education offered to Illinois Tech students by working with faculty from all the different colleges and departments at Illinois Tech to help meaningfully integrate ethics into their educational programs—from the undergraduate to the graduate level.
- Promote innovative teaching by developing new pedagogical approaches and content in a wide variety of formats—from the semester-long ethics course to shorter lessons, workshops, or other formats.
- Establish a strong research program in ethics in the life sciences and in ethical and societal issues of emerging technologies.
- Build on the already existing unique CSEP collection of codes of ethics, as well as expand and internationalize the collection to make it the basis for future research on codes of ethics.
- Be a strong participant in debates on ethical and societal implications of science and technology in the Chicago area, nationwide, and internationally.
Research and Practice
The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions’ research program focuses on ethics in the life sciences and ethical and societal issues of emerging technologies, with a particular focus on the philosophical and ethical aspects of neuroscience. The center is committed to multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research, to projects that combine empirical investigation with conceptual analysis, and to projects that introduce and propagate innovations in teaching. Furthermore, center’s library houses a unique collection of ethics codes from all over the world, and a large collection of ethics education materials.
Externally funded projects enable CSEP to conduct interdisciplinary research involving practitioners, as well as academics from Illinois Tech and other institutions. Topics CSEP has addressed include ways in which the brain and behavioral sciences might provide insight into moral and philosophical questions, intellectual property protection for science and technology, national security restrictions on the dissemination of scientific and technical information, responsible research and innovation in science, university/industry research relationships, organizational development, ethics in vocational education, and individual and collective responsibility in engineering. For more information on CSEP’s activities, please visit the Research and Teaching sections of our website.
CSEP assists professional societies in developing and revising codes of ethics and presenting ethics programs. It also conducts ethics workshops for businesses, trade associations, and city governments. The center maintains the Ethics Codes Collection, the world's largest online collection of codes of ethics and ethical guidelines, including around 4,000 codes from professional organizations, businesses, government agencies, and other institutions.
CSEP is always looking for new projects and collaborations, so please contact us if you are interested in working together.
Founded in 1976, the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions was the first interdisciplinary center of its kind to focus on ethics in the professions. During its 40-year history, it has continued to be one of the nation's leading centers on practical and professional ethics.
As a non-degree granting department, the center generates professional ethics courses at Illinois Tech and assists faculty at other universities to prepare for teaching professional ethics and to develop courses and programs. In 1976–78, the center worked with Illinois Tech faculty to develop one of the first engineering ethics courses in the United States, a course that is still taught today. Center staff also teaches courses in the architecture and humanities departments, and most recently lead a course through the Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program exploring the use of cognitive enhancing stimulants for academic performance. More information is available in the Teaching section of our website.
The center has also worked extensively to help integrate ethics into courses across Illinois Tech’s many schools and departments. CSEP’s Ethics Across the Curriculum project, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, prepares instructors to integrate ethics in ordinary courses. The project includes workshops for Illinois Tech faculty, professional society representatives concerned with continuing education, and faculty from other institutions. Similar workshops are now taught throughout the U.S.
In 1993 Robert Ladenson, an associate faculty member of the center, started the Ethics Bowl, an intercollegiate competition where two teams of undergraduate students answer questions about difficult ethical problems drawn from professional and social contexts. The Ethics Bowl has grown into a two-tiered competition where teams from over 100 colleges around the U.S. compete at the regional level for the chance to participate at the national level. Illinois Tech has its own Ethics Bowl team, who takes part in competitions and sponsors events on campus throughout the academic year.
The center has a long history in collecting and writing codes of ethics. Since its founding, CSEP has collected paper editions of professional codes of ethics and in 1998, it received a grant to put its collection of codes of ethics online. This resource has continued to grow over the years and comprises about 3,000 codes from over 800 different professional institutions, societies, and other organizations. In 1995 CSEP received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the development of the Software Engineers Code of Ethics by the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) Computer Society and the Association for Computing Machinery as they formed a Joint Steering Committee for the Establishment of Software Engineering as a Profession. The emails, draft version of the code, and the final version is all available through the Software Engineering Archive. Ethics Center faculty and staff are happy to work with other organizations interested in developing codes of ethics, or lead workshops on professional ethics.
Throughout its history the center has continued to strive to fulfill its mission of educating students as responsible professionals, reflecting on the wider implications of scientific progress, and contributing to the shaping of technology in accordance with fundamental human values.