The Saint Anselm College Center for Ethics in Business and Governance (CEBG) is supporting Ethics Circles in New Hampshire high schools in the academic year 2019–20. Students learn principles for collaborative discourse and apply those values to discussions of ethical issues, under the guidance of a trained teacher-coordinator. Each school is running at least 12 such discussions during the academic year.
Ethics Circles enhance students' analytical, communication, and leadership skills and build capacities for empathy, reflection, deliberation, and dispute resolution in students' approaches to contemporary moral problems.
Each Circle also hosts two Ethics Lab events during the year, one each semester. An Ethics Lab involves a guided discussion on a community issue by a subject-matter expert, such as a community or business leader or one of the CEBG scholars.
After an initial presentation, students break up into small groups to analyze cases, develop a position, and then present it to the larger group. The discussion leader(s) provide(s) feedback to the students, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. Students listen to the conclusions of other groups and have a chance to deliberate about the relative feasibility and impact of each recommendation.
Each Circle is eligible to form teams for the National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB). The NHSEB promotes the same values of thoughtfulness and collaboration that CEBG emphasizes in the Ethics Labs. The NHSEB provides students with "cases," ethical dilemmas on which students will need to work out their own views using rational, discursive deliberation. Some of the ethical discussions coordinated in the high schools will therefore serve as case preparation for Ethics Bowl competitions.
During the Ethics Bowl event, students analyze cases in small teams, develop a position, and then present it to the larger group. Judges decide which group gave the best presentation based on the four principles of ethical dialogue. Students must engage the central moral issues of the case, justify their position, articulate that position clearly, and address possible counterarguments.
CEBG works with the Meelia Center at Saint Anselm College to give Manchester-area high school students the opportunity to take classes for credit toward graduation taught by Saint Anselm students and faculty. This program is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Collaboration for the Common Good
Ethics Circles teach the following skills for collaboration for the common good.
Before speaking our minds, we should think honestly about our own assumptions and biases and consider their soundness.
We should express ourselves clearly, reasonably, and respectfully.
We should pay attention to what others have to say and consider the possibility that they have insights we lack.
We should strive to understand and appreciate why others think and feel the way they do.
In order to identify solutions to the problem at hand, we must first carefully weigh the input of all participants in a give-and-take process of discourse.
Contact Us About Ethics Circles
We have funding for new high schools to join our program! High school teacher-coordinators are eligible to earn stipends as independent contractors. To contact us about starting an Ethics Circle in a new school or for other queries related to this program, please write or call:
Max Latona, Executive Director
Center for Ethics in Business and Governance
(603) 641-7230, firstname.lastname@example.org