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Title: Teaching Ethics in Academic Curricula
Subtitle: The Case of Five Disciplines in Estonian Public Universities
Author(s): SAARNIIT, Leno , PEVKUR, Aive
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 26    Issue: 1   Date: 2019   
Pages: 33-58
DOI: 10.2143/EP.26.1.3286288

Abstract :
Ethics education in academia takes several forms: academic ethics, research ethics, and professional ethics. The first two can be deemed the most relevant in the academic context, since these shape the attitudes of students as well as future researchers and scientists. However, from a societal perspective, ethics education in academia might be more relevant when it comes to shaping individuals with a strong personal and professional integrity. The main research question of our article is: how is (professional) ethics education embedded into academic curricula? Our assumption is that during academic preparation, ethics-related topics tend to be discussed in a compartmentalized manner, which prevents students from applying ethical concepts (e.g. social responsibility or conflicts of interest) or values acknowledged in academic life in other contexts of social and work activities. To explore this issue, we analyse the bachelor’s and master’s level curricula of five academic disciplines in Estonian public universities in regard to teaching ethics. The disciplines were selected because of their importance in the public sector and the well-established professional ethics within their professional networks. The empirical data was mainly collected through document analysis (curricula, course syllabi). The article focuses on whether the curricula include any ethics-related courses, which ethics issues are discussed and how, and what is the general context of ethics discussions (philosophy, job-specific focus, a wider societal focus, inclusion of different contexts of ethics-related issues, etc.). Thus, the analysis of teaching ethics in academia will indicate the integrity of academic education in a broader context.

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