[ skip to content ]


Forty ODU doctoral students will spend most of the day Friday exploring ethical decision-making and responsible conduct in their scholarly research and professional activities. This subject is seldom formally taught in graduate programs, and the university is involved in a national project to determine how ethics and responsible conduct lessons can be incorporated into advanced-degree curricula.

Topics to be addressed in Friday's workshop from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Rector's Room at Webb University Center are: ethics and ethical decision making; conflicts of interest; mentor-trainee relationships; data ownership/sharing/management; authorship and plagiarism; human and animal subjects, and social and scientific responsibility.

Faculty and staff members and administrators will lead the workshop, which was designed to promote professional integrity among graduate students and to determine what modes of learning will be most effective in ethics training.

"In the wake of the Enron debacle, the U.N. Oil-for-Food program scandal, and the controversy raised by the Schiavo case, the question arises, Does our Higher Educational System provide today's students with adequate knowledge and skills to identify and deal with ethical problems, conflicts of interests, and professional standards?" said Philip Langlais, dean of graduate studies and associate vice president for research. In response to this need, he is leading ODU's participation in a 10-university ethics and responsible conduct training project funded by the private Council of Graduate Schools and the federal Office of Research Integrity.

"We are taking a very 21st century approach to this. We are going well beyond the more publicized ethical issues in the sciences, in areas such as bio-technology and pharmacology," Langlais said. "We will address the perceptions and decision-making skills of students in all of the disciplines, whether it be creative design, dance, business, political science, religious studies or biology. Ethics problems crop up in all disciplines.

"It would be a victory to help students simply recognize conflicts of interest and violations of business and professional practices in the real world, to make them more sensitive to ethical issues. We also want to give them practical experience, through case studies, to develop skills they need to take the high road through ethical dilemmas."

Langlais said he considers practical experience in ethical decision-making to be a necessary component of a college education. "This should be a subject as important as adding and dividing, as important as basic English."

Workshop leaders in addition to Langlais will be:

*Lisa Eckenwiler, associate professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
*Cynthia Jones, eminent scholar and professor, Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric
*Laurel Garzon, director, graduate nursing programs
*Resit Unal, professor and chair, Department of Engineering Management
*Anusorn Singhapakdi, professor and marketing coordinator, business and public administration
*Barbara Winstead, professor and chair, Department of Psychology
*Zhongtang Ren, doctoral student, urban services program
*Susan Metosky, research compliance officer

A survey given before and after the workshop will measure the impact of the session on the participants' knowledge, attitudes and skills related to the topics that are addressed. Results from ODU's project will be presented along with those from the other nine universities at a conference later this year. The results will be digested into a best-practices monograph to be published by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Langlais said he and other task force members working on the project have done research to determine the attitudes and skills pertaining to ethics held by faculty, staff and students throughout the university. ODU's project report, he said, will compare differences in these attitudes and skills between various segments of the university community. He said he is particularly interested in the role that ethnic and cultural background, gender and field of study play in the awareness of problems and in ethical decision-making.

This article was posted on: April 13, 2005

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.