Rutland Institute for Ethics

First Annual Ethics Day at Clemson University - Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Clemson University's First Annual Ethics Day will be celebrated throughout campus on Wednesday, October 17th. Sponsored by the Rutland Institute for Ethics (RIE), this event will be an annual opportunity to remind students, staff, and faculty members about the importance of ethical decision-making in their personal and professional lives.

Dr. William McCoy, director of the institute, developed the concept, “I ran a similar ethics organization at Northern Illinois University prior to coming to Clemson in March. At NIU, we were fortunate to be able to integrate ethics education into the curriculum of the College of Business, and hosting Annual Ethics Day events were paramount to helping students understand the importance of making the best decision possible when faced with a dilemma."

McCoy has set a path forward for the institute, and Annual Ethics Day is just one of the notable aspects of that pathway. The institute will host the following events that day:

Keynote Speaker - Joan Dubinsky, Former Director of the Office of Ethics for the United Nations
Location: Hendrix Student Center - Almeda Jacks Ballroom / Time: 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Free and open to the general university and public - no RSVP required

Faculty/Staff Questions and Answers Session / Reception
A pre-session for faculty and staff to engage with and ask questions of Dr. Dubinsky
Location: Hendrix Student Center - Meeting Room B / Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Free and open to all faculty and staff members - RSVP required by Friday, September 28th
Limit of 50 attendees, Hors D'oeuvres will be served

Guest Classroom Ethics Speakers
An opportunity for Clemson alumni to talk about ethics in various classes around campus
Location: Clemson University - Main and satellite campuses as requested / Time: 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
For more information about this opportunity, please contact Dr. McCoy at: no later than Friday, September 28th.

These events are just the beginning of an appreciation for ethics at Clemson University. The institute has also launched a comprehensive decision-making model officially endorsed by the university. One of the key components of the Rutland Institute's mission is to provide a decision-making model so that our students will have something to refer to when help is needed. With the help of Philosophy Department Professor Daniel Wueste, we’ve been able to identify a decision-making model that can impact every person associated with Clemson University.

The institute will spend this academic year raising the visability of the institute and its decision-making framework.

Should you have questions about institute activities and initiatives and/or wish to support the institute's mission, please contact Dr. McCoy at

Ethics Brown Bag Lunch Forums

The Rutland Institute for Ethics sponsors several brown bag lunches throughout the academic year. Both the student-centric lunches and the faculty/staff-centric lunches focus on various pertinent issues that can potentially challenge ethical decision-making efforts. The purpose of these sessions is to raise ethical decision-making awareness on the Clemson University campus, and to encourage critical thinking skills among our student population.

High School Ethics Case Competition

This is an opportunity for high school teams consisting of two individuals to propose a solution to an ethical dilemma in front of a panel of judges.

Reasons to Participate:

  • Obtain exposure to ethical dilemmas in life
  • Understand that dilemmas occur everywhere and every day to everyone who makes choices
  • Learn about dilemmas that do not have clear cut answers
  • Obtain and improve decision-making skills in pressured and hurried situations at a leadership level
  • Get a jump start on resume building
  • Network with other high school students, Clemson University students, staff and faculty.
  • Feel pride in participating in a rare and productive event

  • Programs and Centers

    Ethics Across the Curriculum

    It is absolutely critical that students are educated in how to make ethical decisions. Thus, developing “students' ethical judgment” is prominent among the goals set out in Clemson’s Mission Statement. The best evidence of Clemson’s commitment to this goal is that ethical judgment is a distributed competency in the general education curriculum. It is a distributed competency, rather than one met by taking a single three-credit course, because Clemson faculty recognize that ethics in practice is not compartmentalized and the most effective way of conveying this point is by integrating ethics in regular courses throughout the curriculum. In fact, an article was published in the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi's Bent about ethical decision making, with four of the writers (Well, Sill, Park, and Ohland) being EAC Alumni. EAC is part of a worldwide movement for whom interested professionals may affiliate with the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum. For an overview of the program: Ethics Across the Curriculum: At the Heart of the Rutland Institute's Mission. Over the last several years, as a benefit of membership in the Rutland Ethics Alliance at certain levels, and as a means of outreach into the community, scholarships have been provided for K-12 teachers to attend a one day version of EAC K-12. Drs. Wueste and Fishman have created and offered this program.

    Ethics in Design and Building

    The aim of the Professional Ethics in Design and Building seminar is to enhance practical understanding of relevant state law and, in particular, ethical principles relevant to architectural practice. The approach is interactive and user-friendly. We use case studies (a) to elicit ethical principles and (b) as occasions for practice in applying them. We explain how these ethical principles figure in what we call a “toolbox approach” to ethical decision-making and stress the need to approach ethical issues in a systematic, reflective and responsible way.

    For a related article from the American Institute of Architects

    For information on the 2015 offerings

    International Center for Academic Integrity

    The International Center for Academic Integrity provides a forum to identify, affirm, and promote the values of academic integrity among students, faculty, teachers and administrators. The ICAI Web site is divided into a public tier, which contains general information about the Center and its activities, and a members-only tier, which contains specific information on ICAI projects, research, and a list-server for members to exchange ideas and information. Learn how your academic institution can gain access to all of the online resources provided by the ICAI by becoming a member today.

    Department of Philosophy and Religion

    The Clemson Department of Philosophy and Religion has an extremely active body of undergraduates interested in extracurricular Philosophy and Religion activities. In fact, interest has grown so rapidly that the department now has an undergraduate coordinator, Kelly Smith, whose job it is to oversee and facilitate all student activities. What's really important about this fact is that the department has allocated a small budget which can be used to facilitate said undergraduate activities.

    Collaborative Projects

    Values Based Leadership Working Group

    On March 8, 2013 the Rutland Institute for Ethics held a symposium on “Influential Voices on Economic Development, Ethics and Education.” As an outgrowth of that meeting and in collaboration with Ten At The Top, during the remainder of 2013 the institute conducted quarterly C-level executive sessions of a Values Based Leadership Working Group. The sessions for 2014, the first one on March 14th this section.

    June 11, 2013: Notes from the Session Agenda Photos from the Session

    September 27, 2013: Notes from the Session Agenda No Photos available.

    December 4, 2013: Notes from the Session Agenda Photos from the Session

    March 14, 2014: Notes from the Session Agenda Photos from the Session Bios

    June 13, 2014: Notes from the Session Agenda Photos from the Session

    September 12, 2014: Notes from the Session Agenda No Photos Available

    March 24, 2015: Notes from the Session Agenda No Photos Available

    July 29, 2015: Notes from the Session Agenda No Photos Available





    Engineering Ethics Slam

    Definition: The Ethics Slam is an ethical dilemma competition that challenges various groups of students to compete by having their responses to major ethical dilemmas evaluated by a panel of judges. There can also be a “people’s choice” audience judging element if deemed desirable.

    Background: In an effort to engage people on the Clemson Campus and encourage interaction in ethical discussions in a fun yet meaningful way, the concept of an alternative version of an “ethics slam” as detailed in an article in the August 2013 issue of The Rotarian magazine was proposed. The article is about the Big Ethical Question Slam competition that takes place annually in Ann Arbor The project at Clemson was outlined, planned and implemented by a Technical Writing class instructed by Ms. Angelina Oberdan in the spring 2014 semester.

    Learning Outcomes:
    • Students demonstrated their ability to use conventional workplace writing genres (emails, memos, and business letters) to facilitate and organize an event.
    • Students investigated possible audiences, as well as estimated and measured the effectiveness of their communication and of the event.
    • Students established a one-semester threshold event that can lead to a series of similar events over the next few years and will clearly dictate through instructions how this series can progress.
    Resulting Products:
    • Engineering Ethics Slam event that involved the students from the Technical Writing Class and the audience/spectators that they drew to the event.
    • A manual for organizing future ethics slams across any discipline or by a Greek group or other organization on campus.

    Influences Project

    The Influences Project is an ethics DVD created with the Project Challenge Drama class of students from Westside and T. L. Hanna High Schools and Ashley Cowden’s Business and Technical Writing class at Clemson. Students in one of Ashley Cowden’s business writing classes teamed up with a drama teacher and her students from Hanna-Westside Extension Campus in Anderson, S.C., to create an educational DVD about ethical dilemmas high school students face. The goal of the project was to facilitate discussions between students and teachers about making good choices when faced with tough decisions.

    View a highlight video of the event here

    View the interview with Coach Dabo Swinney

    Ethics in Medical Research and Genetic Engineering (EMRGE)

    Developed in collaboration with Anderson School District 5, SC Life and the SC DNA Learning Center, EMRGE (Ethics in Medical Research and Genetic Engineering) worked with six high school science teachers to provide them with professional development to enable them to facilitate discussions of ethical issues that arise across curriculum. They were mentored in lesson planning, project rubrics, and experiential trips to Clemson for 350 students. Specifically addressed were several SC standards for which they had few resources and background to effectively guide their students. Click here to view resources associated with the project. Click here to view some useful documents. Click here to view photos of the event.

    The Land Ethics and Sustainable Communities Project

    The Land Ethics and Sustainable Communities Project provides seminars and events that provide participants with information about establishing and maintaining sustainable communities. Initiatives that educate people about energy consumption, climate change, new technology and alternate energy options comprise the foundation of this project (this project is yet to be initiated).

    Special Projects

    National Survey of CEOs on Business Ethics

    The National Survey of CEOs on Business Ethics is a study involving 300 large and mid-size corporations in all major industries, in collaboration with the Rutland Institute for Ethics at Clemson and the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at GSU and conducted with support from UPS. Panelists from Prominent Upstate corporations will comment on the results and share their practical perspectives.

    Rutland Institute Event Template

    The Rutland Institute for Ethics Event Template was created as a marketing tool that emphasizes one of the services that the institute can coordinate and facilitate to ensure a tangible work product. Often tough challenges or thorny issues may not get the attention needed for an effective solution.


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