About Ethics Updates and its related websites
Ethics Updates was founded in 1994 by Lawrence M. Hinman, a professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego. Originally, it was intended to update the bibliographical essays in two of his books, Ethics: A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory and Contemporary Moral Issues. The site still reflects its origins: the structure of the two principal components of the site reflects the tables of contents of those two books. A more detailed description of the development of the site can be found in "The Virtual Seminar Room," which was published in Teaching Philosophy in 1997.
As the site developed, a number of new features were added. An on-line library of classic texts in ethics provides the basis of the Reference Library. The Ethics Calendar provides information about ethics-related conferences around the world, and now thypically lists over thirty upcoming conferences. The Ethics Forums provide a place for students to discuss the ethical issues covered in the site. Ethics Case Studies presents numerous case studies in applied ethics, and each case study has an accompanying discussion folder. The site also contains guides to writing ethics papers, a glossary of key ethical terms, and most recently a section on "Philosophers Speak Out on Issues of War, Peace, and Terrorism."
The development of Ethics Updates coincided with the founding of the Values Institute at the University of San Diego. Directed by Hinman, the Values Institute sponsors a number of on-campus ethics-related events and, with the NROTC batallion, co-sponsors the annual Stockdale Symposium on Ethics and Leadership. Materials relating to the Value Institute are available on its website.
In 1996, Hinman began the Ethics across the Curriculum program at the University of San Diego with a grant from the E. L. Wiegand Foundation. He has developed an Ethics across the Curriculum website to accompany that initiative.
In 1997, Hinman began videotaping the visiting Ethics across the Curriculum scholars—Carol Gilligan, Tu Weiming, Dan Callahan, Michael Walzer, and Michael Josephson—who were giving lectures and workshops on campus. On his own, he began experimenting with streaming video and began to put some of these initial lectures on the website. Although streaming video at that time was the size of a postage stamp and far less clear, Hinman realized that this was the future, and that eventually streaming vidoe would offer much higher quality. He received a grant from the E. L. Wiegand Foundation for the development of Ethics Videos, a web site devoted to streaming video of ethics-related lectures, discussions, and interviews. He quickly developed relationships with several organizations and universities—including the American Philosophical Association, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics the Kenan Institute of Ethics and the Center for Academic Integrity—to provide video streaming of their ethics events and to make all of this available free of charge on the Web. He also began doing a series of interviews with contemporary moral philosophers, discussing their work with them in a conversational format. In addition, he made his own lectures on ethical theory and contemporary moral issues available in streaming video, along with accompanying PowerPoint presentations. Finally, he has videotaped a number of ethics conferences—including CEPE2000 at Dartmouth and Kantian Ethical Thought: Interpretations and Critiques (2003) at the University of San Diego—and put these on the web as well. At the beginning of 2004, the website ocntained over three hundred videos. Moreover, the quality has improved dramatically, and Ethics Videos now streams VHS-quality full screen broadband video of its most recent lectures and is in the process of updating earlier videos to this new standard.
Ethics Updates and Ethics Videos together now receive well over two million visits (over twenty-five million hits) a year. Full details about its web traffic is available on-line in the Usage Report.
The Ethics across the Curriculum effort has been extended from the university level to the elementary and high school level. Working with Sandra Foy of Seattle Preparatory School, he has conducted workshops and helped develop EAC programs for the middle and high school levels. Most recently, he has been working with some of the principals and teachers involved in those workshops to develop on-line EAC modules, and to demonstrate the implementation of those modules using streaming video and other web-based resources. The long-term goal is the development of an on-line library of curricular components that would be available to teachers around the country and abroad who wanted to integrate ethics-related components into their courses. These materials are now becoming available on the EAC K-12 website.
In 2003, Hinman received a grant from the Skirball Foundation for American Values to hold an initial meeting of individuals, both academics and non-academic professionals, working in the area of ethics. This meeting was intended to foster communication between those who do ethics in the classroom and those who do ethics "in the trenches" as members of hospital ethics boards, mulicipal ethics commissions, and the like. In addition, it was intended to encourage interaction between those individuals in southern California and their counterparts in Baja California, Mexico. The result of this effort was the formation of the Ethics Consortium of Baja and Southern California, which has its own website.
In 2003, Hinman also began work on Ethics Reviews & Comments, an interactive on-line ethics book review journal that would provide timely reviews of new work in ethics and an opportunity for authors to reply to reviews. The prototype of that initiative is now available on-line, and we are currently seeking funding to support its development.
Ethics Updates and its associated websites are housed in the Values Institute at the University of San Diego. The Institute is directed by Larry Hinman. Leeanna Cummings is the Executive Assistant to the Philosophy Department and the Values Institute.