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

The Center has organized a number of events on integrity in academic, professional and political life. 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 Sy Syms School of Business Dean Moses Pava on "The Great Financial Meltdown of 2008–009: Jewish Ethics and Business Ethics" and by Professor Danny Statman on "Dirty Hands and Politics." David Wasserman and Sheldon Gelman co-authored a commentary for the Columbia Teacher's Record on "Taking Cheating Seriously: Academic Honesty without Sanctimony."

The Center's day-long public symposium on "Ethics and Character in the U.S. Presidency" brought prominent historians, political scientists, ethicists 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, the leading journal in the area.