The Ethical Citizen: Can You Make a Difference?

The Ethical Citizen logoThe concepts and practices of ethics and ethical citizenship have been elusive and contested notions throughout documented human history. The mere mention of the word “ethical” conjures a complicated web of questions and socio-cultural considerations. Additionally, many would argue that, in recent years, considerations of ethical citizenship have grown even more complicated, notably as our world has grown “smaller” and an eternally expanding roux of perspectives are being integrated into the pot of global communication.

What does it mean to be an ethical citizen?

In relation, how do we begin to address the view and practices of ethical citizenship? What does it actually mean to be an ethical citizen? Are one person’s ethics more viable than another’s? Who determines what behaviors and practices are considered ethical? How do individuals and cultural groups with varying ethical perspectives co-exist and support one another in their freedoms and outlooks? Do ethics and the role of the ethical citizen change depending on the situation?

What implication does ethical citizenship hold for society?

In the United States, we aim to provide the liberty to engage in one’s own beliefs and social practices. That said, how can the ethical citizen retain fortitude toward their own values while negating conflict that could arise from diverse, and sometimes incompatible, views? In what ways can we promote tolerance and social equity by identifying and analyzing ethical choices that consider the whole? These important inquiries seem to cast an even larger shadow in light of recent violent acts in American schools and communities, including the social responses to these events that illuminated distinct divisions in our diverse foundation of U.S. citizens. Importantly, the means by which we address these questions surrounding ethical citizenship hold consequence in every corner of human social structure including health and human services, business, education, law, the sciences, politics and the arts.

While there are certainly no simple answers to these inquiries, the public affairs theme of The Ethical Citizen will facilitate vital dialogue on these topics throughout the 2014-2015 academic year.

Provost Fellow

Dr. Kurt HeinleinDr. Kurt Heinlein

Associate professor, theatre and dance