The Center for Ethics and Human Values encourages research and facilitates public discussion on a wide range of foundational and applied moral questions that connect the research, teaching, and other work pursued at Ohio State. Recognizing that moral disagreements can easily become hostile and counterproductive, our work is to foster thoughtful conversations that promote free thought, reason, understanding, and tolerance. Only by deeply engaging the values that unite us – and divide us – as human beings and as members of local, national, and global communities, can we productively work toward our common goals.
is a series of year-long conversations on morality, politics, and society. It seeks to model the sort of informed, civil discussion of complex issues that is too often absent from public discourse and that universities are in a unique position to promote. The program usually consists of two conferences, one in the fall and one in the spring, along with a wide variety of other events and activities scattered throughout the year. We have been honored to have world-class speakers, for example, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Special Envoy with the U.N., and Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. In addition to lectures, the COMPAS program sponsors a photography contest
and teaches a semester-long class exploring that year’s theme. For further information, feel free to explore each of our previous themes: Immigration
(2016-17), and Religion in Public Life
(2017-18). Please also join us during the 2018-19 academic year as we explore the theme of Technology
The CARE program (Conversations About Research Ethics) is a year-long university-wide series of faculty-led conversations related to the ethical issues that arise from engaging in research. Specifically, the aim of CARE is to spark a university-wide conversation about research ethics that goes beyond the regulatory requirements for human subjects protection and research integrity as it is traditionally understood and defined by regulations. When thinking about the ethical challenges that arise in academic research, the images that are most often conjured up take the form of two extremes: one either envisions (i) limited, and occasionally nitpicky, feedback from institutional review boards or or (ii) newspaper headlines chronicling disgraced scientists, falsified data, and retracted articles.
Missing from this binary picture are the complex and difficult ethical dilemmas and challenges that most researchers encounter every day. These are researchers who are motivated by the scientific and social value of their work to responsibly design and conduct their research, but who nonetheless face pressing ethical challenges in the field or in the lab which they must navigate. These ethical challenges arise out of the persistent social inequities that create vulnerable populations as well as in response to the demands of current funding structures, publishing practices, and norms of academic advancement.
Research integrity and responsible conduct require researchers to think critically about the full ethical dimensions of their work rather than strategically about how to adhere to the regulations. In the 2019 calendar year, we have hosted three CARE panels: Conflicts of Interest in Research (January 2019), Reproducibility in Research (February 2019), and Research in Humanitarian Crises (March 2019). Details about these panels can be found in the CARE event archive.
An annual ETHOS Address will sponsor a distinguished member of the faculty to deliver a public lecture to the incoming class of students and the larger OSU community discussing the ethical and value considerations that motivate them, as well as the professional challenges they face. The ancient Greeks used the term “ethos” to describe both the guiding values that characterize a community and the individual character traits that underwrite claims to expertise. ETHOS (ETHics at Ohio State) combines these two meanings: first, it is a forum for OSU scholars to reflect upon the ethical questions that attracted them to and confront them within their disciplines; and second, this process of reflection will help to define the values of the OSU community more broadly.
In addition to OSU’s core ethics faculty in a number of departments, the Center will develop a pre- and post-doctoral fellowship program for promising graduate students and recent PhDs doing significant new work on topics related to the work of the Center. Fellows will come from a variety of disciplines to foster an active and engaged interdisciplinary community of researchers and organizers. These fellows will not only teach related courses offered by cooperating departments, but will take an active role in organizing and guiding the Center programs each year.
Our inaugural post-doctoral fellow was Corey Katz
, who has since accepted a tenure-track position in the Department of Philosophy at Georgian Court University. Corey's research and teaching focused on the ethics of sustainable development.
The Maximin Project began as a non-profit organization seeking to collapse the distance between education and action with regard to extreme global poverty. It is now in the process of being redeveloped through CEHV as the Maximin Perspective. Maximin Perspective is a website designed to easily visualize ethically important data on a global map in a way that works well on all modern devices. We are working hard to develop a curated collection of metrics that provide interesting insights into the things that matter most: health, wealth, education, peace, justice, and the environment. The idea is that the website will very quickly and intuitively provide an informed global perspective that could serve as a good starting point for further research, advocacy, investment, etc.
The Maximin Perspective differs from other similar map projections in its attention to accuracy of the size of land areas. Nearly all maps on the internet use projections that preserve shape, and work well for navigation, but badly distort size. Those maps are fine for many uses, but run into serious problems when visualizing data that is ethically important because they artificially inflate the size of northern countries compared to countries close to the equator. Popular map projections also tend to be substantially wider than they are tall. This makes them difficult to work with at a global scale on a variety of devices and orientations, many of which are tall and thin rather than wide and short. To address these concerns, Maximin Perspective morphs the map to comfortably display as much data as possible across all modern devices while preserving the proper area and shape of continents.