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Media Release

October 26 2007

SA unis collaborate on ethics education

New studies in ethics launched in SASA’s three local universities are working together through the Ethics Centre of South Australia (ECSA) to offer a suite of new degrees in ethics.

In 2008 a new Graduate Certificate in Applied Ethics will be available to students from UniSA, Adelaide and Flinders Universities, coordinated through ECSA.

Director of the Centre and the new program, Emeritus Professor Robert Crotty says the certificate will tap into a resurgence in interest in the study of ethics.

“People are generally interested in the principles and issues of ethics and we see that reflected in columns such as The Weekend Australian magazine which covers a modern dilemma each week giving the opinions of an ethicist, among others,” Prof Crotty says.

“Why humans should do one thing rather than another, why they should think, behave and value things this way and not another, even words like ‘should’, ‘ought’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are all part of the language and concerns of ethics.

“And each day there are issues to tackle with the application of ethical consideration - should cartoonists depict Muhammad or Jesus in a disparaging fashion, who should have first rights to limited water resources – the cotton planters or home gardeners?

“From abortion, and drug manufacture, to immigration and climate change – ethics can contribute to social. Political and policy debate.”

Professor Crotty says the new program is quite innovative.

“It is the first of a nest of awards, since it will be followed by a Graduate Diploma in Applied Ethics and a Masters of Applied Ethics,” he says.

“Each of these awards will ‘nest’ in the next, so a student successful in the Graduate Certificate can enrol in the Graduate Diploma and from there into the Masters.

“Under certain conditions, the Masters graduates would be able to enrol in a doctorate in the ethical field.”

In 2005, the three universities and the State Government cooperated to form ECSA in order to promote knowledge about and informed debate on ethical issues in the public arena. All three universities, Government Departments, particularly the Department of Health, and professional areas contribute to the membership and management.

ECSA will coordinate the research and teaching expertise of academics from the three South Australian universities and other academics in professional practice to provide the award with first rate teachers., Students from a wide range of backgrounds will come together to gain knowledge, skills and understanding in ethical theory and ethical issues.

While the University of South Australia will house the new award, courses in ethics can be taken from the other two universities and ECSA will coordinate the entire program.

The core course in the Graduate Certificate is Applied Ethics dealing with the major approaches to ethical principles.

Prof Crotty says students will look at ethical debates in the real world, working out what is at stake, which issues need to be resolved, and should the person making ethical decisions focus on the consequences of human actions or on people’s rights and duties or on good, moral character.

Students will also be able to begin to specialise in elective courses offered in the Graduate Certificate - bioethics, ethics in journalism, public health ethics, international ethics, ethics in education.

The Graduate Certificate in Applied Ethics will be available from the start of the academic year in 2008.

Further information on the Graduate Certificate in Applied Ethics is available from Emeritus Professor Robert Crotty, Director of ECSA and Program Director of the Graduate Certificate.


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