• Center for Ethics

  • Professional Ethics

    The Center has a strong interest in the ethical challenges of professional life; not only in such familiar professions as law, medicine, clinical psychology, and social work, but in religious leadership and entrepreneurial activity. Broadly conceived, professional ethics provides a unifying theme for an institution with several prominent professional schools and a major rabbinic seminary. The Center has focused on two areas:

    1. the comparative ethical responsibilities and constraints of different professions
    2. integrity in the professions, in academia, and in public life

    Dr. Asch and Mr. Wasserman collaborated with faculty from Cardozo Law School to develop a pilot course in "Ethics across the Professions." The course was taught at Cardozo in spring 2008, the Center hopes to offer similar courses at the other professional schools. In July 2008, Mr. Wasserman delivered the keynote address at Wurzweiler's Common Day on professional ethics in social work. Mr. Wasserman also took part on Wurzweiler panels on "Social Work Ethics and Technology Practice" and "Moral Visions of Social Work." In collaboration with the Pre-Law and Pre-Health Advising offices and the Career Development Center, the Center organized a panel discussion for undergraduate students on "Ethical Dimensions of Professional Careers." Dr. Asch and Mr. Wasserman also teach regularly in the required medical ethics course for first and second year students at Einstein Medical College.

    The Center has organized a number of events on integrity in academic, professional, and political life. In 2010, it hosted a series of panel discussions on this topic: "Academic Integrity: Challenges Facing Faculty and Students;" "Financial Crisis as a Moral Crisis," and "Scandal, Money, and Corruption: What to do When Leaders Go Bad?" The Center also presented talks by Prof. Moses Pava of Syms Business School on "The Great Financial Meltdown of 2008-009: Jewish Ethics and Business Ethics" and by Prof. Danny Statman on "Dirty Hands and Politics." Mr. Wasserman and Sheldon Gelman, Dean of the Wurzweiler School: coauthored a commentary for the Columbia Teacher's Record on "Taking Cheating Seriously: Academic Honesty without Sanctimony" (March 12, 2009).

    The Center's highest-profile activity in this area was a day-long public symposium on "Ethics and Character in the U.S. Presidency." Held in January, 2008, just before the New York presidential primary, the symposium brought prominent historians, political scientists, ethics, and religious scholars together to address issues on moral leadership and the role morality of political leaders, with a focus on the United States. A selection of papers from the symposium was published in a special issue of the Presidential Studies Quarterly (Vol. 40, No 1: March, 2010), the leading journal in the area. The issue was edited by Mr. Wasserman and John Fousek, the Center's program director, who co-authored an introductory essay.

    Scandal, Money, and Corruption

    Scandal, Money and Corruption 

    Listen to Event 

    In May 2010, The Center for Ethics held a panel that examined corruption as a failure of public integrity and included both Halakhic and secular perspectives. Issues discussed include political corruption in Israel and the United States. As well as misconduct by community and religious leaders and those in politics and government.

    Is the Financial Crisis a Moral Crisis?

    In March 2010, the Center hosted a panel discussion examining this question. The panel featured two YU faculty members, Aaron Levine and Moses Pava, and a prominent financier, Leonard Shaykin, Managing Partner of Lambda Star Infrastructure Partners, LLC. It was co-sponsored by the Sy Syms School of Business. Dean Michael Ginzberg of Syms chaired the proceedings.

    The Center is pleased to present versions of these talks in written form. The essays by Prof. Pava and Mr. Shaykin are based on their remarks at the panel and published here for the first time. Prof. Levine's presentation stemmed from his 2009 article in The American Economist. To view the each article, click on the corresponding link below:

    The Great Financial Melt Down of 2008-09

    On March 25, 2009, Professor Moses Pava of Sy Syms School of Business presented a lecture entitled "The Great Financial Meltdown of 2008-09: Jewish Ethics and Business Ethics." The event occurred at 8 pm at the David Yagoda Commons, 215 Lexington Avenue at 33rd St.

    Moses L. Pava is the Alvin Einbender Professor of Business Ethics at the Syms School of Business. His opinion piece, "We Are All Madoff's Enablers," appeared in the Jewish Daily Forward, December 24, 2008.

    "The Culture of Science: Research and Ethics," A Special Symposium

    In May 2007, the Center co-sponsored, along with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs, a symposium discussing ethical issues in scientific research. Allegra Goodman, author of Intuition, and Dr. Lawrence J. Rhoades, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, were the featured speakers and participated. Their remarks were followed by a panel discussion.

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