JMU hosts Ethics Across the Curriculum Conference


by Emma Seli (’23)

David McGraw

The College of Integrated Science and Engineering at JMU collaborated with the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum to host the 24th Annual Conference on Ethics Across the Curriculum from Oct. 1–3. SEAC publishes the journal Teaching Ethics, and focuses on incorporating ethical reasoning and courses into higher education.

David McGraw, professor of Integrated Science and Technology, and Mark Dooley, director of the Ethics Program at Villanova University, were the conference directors. According to McGraw, JMU was an ideal location for the conference because of President Jonathan R. Alger’s commitment to ethics and his efforts to incorporate it into JMU’s curriculum.

This year’s theme, Designing Just Futures, studies the future of ethics and technology and their relationship with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Presentations included topics on virtual reality, artificial intelligence, ChatGPT, language processing, data visualization and predictive analytics.

“What kind of world do we want to live in with respect to technology?” McGraw asked.

More than 125 people attended the conference, including professors and academics from schools across the country.

Professors from the School of Integrated Sciences Futures Lab challenged their students to explore the theme of “designing just futures.” Students presented their work at the conference on Monday and Tuesday. McGraw illustrates an example of their work — a set of tarot cards focused on ethical reasoning. The cards are intended to prompt individuals to analyze ethical scenarios related to technology when they’re drawn.

Keynote speakers included Siva Vaidhyanathan from the University of Virginia, S. Matthew Liao from New York University and David Gunkel from Northern Illinois University. President of the SEAC, Elaine Englehardt, delivered the presidential address.

The rapid rise of technology has led to numerous ethical questions and dilemmas. The SAEC conference aimed to motivate professors, academics, and students to explore the connection between ethics and technology — inspiring universities to implement ethical courses and practices into their curriculums.

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Published: Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Last Updated: Friday, November 17, 2023

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