With the 2012 national election now over, we can expect a steep drop in some kinds of political participation in our democracy--from campaign volunteering to learning about candidates and issues through the multitudinous media channels now available to encourage participation. These days, the most talked about channels of political and civic participation are social media.
Americans seem to believe that if we assign more social responsibilities to our schools, and call on our teachers to take on even more roles, that somehow the nation will be prepared and able to withstand any and all tests. We have big ideas about education and its uses. Think about it. Since our beginnings, we have regarded schools as laboratories for citizenship. We have engraved onto school missions stringent requirements to build moral character and to pass on ethical values.
We all know how difficult it can be to have an honest conversation with members of certain professions. Two examples come immediately to mind: corporate chieftains and politicians. We think this is especially true when the honest conversation we all wish for--is about ethics and some of the ethical dilemmas corporate execs and elected officials commonly face in their work.
A national election year allows for both sagacious and salacious talk about ethics issues in the political arena. While most ethics talk fitfully follows what voters lose from negative and false political advertising, and superficially attends to the profound ethical dilemmas posed by the increasing link between income and political inequality, we think the local political arena offers some of the best insights about political ethics issues that impact us all.
There are so many ways to present the fascinating curatorial work, teaching and original research of Finn Brunton, Assistant Professor of Information at the University of Michigan School of Information, and author of the forthcoming book--Spam: A Flood, A Theory, A History (MIT Press).
Before A2Ethics talked with Darlene Wahlberg, an IRB administrator for St. Joseph Mercy Health Care System, we had to get her informed consent. We thought it meant getting her to talk with us about her responsibility for managing and documenting the work of one of St. Joseph Mercy's Institutional Review Boards. Institutional Review Boards, more commonly known as IRBs, have been part of the structure of health care and foundations of medical ethics for forty years.
Education continues to command political and public attention; elementary and secondary school reform is frequently mentioned when Americans are asked about what changes are necessary to ensure America's place in the world.
Even so, amidst all the interest in educational reform, very little has been said about its ethics: that is, whether the most popular reforms offer principled approaches that serve individual students' best interests and the common good of schools and communities.