How Higher Education Institutions Can Better Address Ethical Issues

Government & Politics Blog

There are many stories about corporate America and its lack of ethics. In fact, a 2009 ethics survey reported that 49% of the 3,000 employees surveyed stated there was ethical misconduct in their place of work. Many of the ethics problems involved include mistreating employees and customers, misleading accounting practices, and misbehaving employees. Higher education institutions are doing their part to do what they can to address ethical issues and to be different from corporate America .

Addressing Ethical Responsibilities on Campus

One of the first things higher education institutions can do is address ethical responsibilities on campus. Some of the ways this can be done include:

  • Adopting a code of ethics that emphasizes ethical principles that are different from merely abiding by the law
  • Putting an emphasis on the integrity of students and implementing a student honor code as a way to decrease the amount of academic dishonesty
  • Focusing on the personal development of students so that they will be guided by ethical standards as they move from college into the workplace

Higher education institutes also need to ensure there are implications for faculty when ethical standards are compromised or aren't met. When faculty members set a precedence to do the right thing, students will respect that and will be more likely to follow suit.

Including Ethics as Part of the College Orientation Program

When students attend college, they often attend an orientation program of some kind that introduces them to the college community. Some orientation programs span over a few days, while others might only be hours long. It largely depends on the size of the school. Many orientation programs focus on meeting members of faculty and helping students get to know their way around campus.

Some orientation programs also teach students about academic ethics, such as what sort of consequences they will face if they cheat. But this may not go far enough. Orientation programs should also ensure that students have a clear understanding of their ethical principles in general. This includes helping students realize they should:

  • Have an obligation to keep promises
  • Take steps to prevent the harm of oneself and others
  • Not waste resources that can be used for good
  • Treat all people equally and fairly
  • Help those who are unfairly treated

You can talk to professionals, such as Katharine Hamilton, for more information on ethics at the College of DuPage. These kinds of educational institutions work hard to implement how they can better address ethical issues.

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