Being at an institute that excels at STEM, Tech students are used to hearing about various forms of ethicality in their disciplines.
Whether it’s bioethics for pre-med students, computer ethics that dictate the use of computer hardware and software in computer science classes, or research ethics that mitigate problems like data falsification in research labs across campus, students are inundated with tools and guidelines to act responsibly with the remarkable tools and abilities they have at their disposal.
To celebrate Tech’s tradition of excellence and integrity, the Institute held its annual Ethics Week during the week of November 8th. This year’s Ethics Week revolved around the strategic plan’s fundamental value of leading by example and the theme was, “Leading Ethically.”
In correspondence with this theme, the Institute planned a plethora of immersive activities to educate and engage the community regarding the importance of ethical leadership. The hope was to attempt to further involve the student population with ethics, and help to broaden their horizons regarding the topic. Specifically, the Office of Ethics and Compliance is tabled across campus in order to answer questions and provide insight into available resources for students who are curious about continuing to develop critical thinking revolving around ethics, or who need advice on any sort of ethics related conundrum.
Students could even go to an ethics themed game-night with Institute leadership and collect special “ethics stickers” by the Ramblin’ Reck to add to their repertoire of Ethics Week merch.
Aside from giveaways and activities, Tech also hosted a myriad of panelists to aid in educating the student body and professors about the role of ethics inside and outside the classroom.
From predatory publications and issues in authorship seminars to a keynote speech by the Google Chief Compliance Officer, Spyro Karestos, the Institute community had the opportunity to attend ethicality seminars and talks about a diverse array of topics. These talks covered not only a wide variety of ethics related topics, but also sought to examine ethics related questions outside of those students may encounter in a collegiate environment, such as in business or scientific publications.
Additionally, several training programs pertaining to compliance and safe spaces were administered to encourage students and faculty to try an action oriented approach for channeling their newfound knowledge.
The organization of the week and associated activities can be attributed to Kara Tucker, the Institute’s Director of Ethics and Compliance, along with the Veterans Resource Center, LGBTQIA Resource Center and the Alumni Association.
The team’s dedication and effort has not gone unnoticed; last year, the Ethics Week festivities garnered support and recognition from the University System of Georgia. USG officials encouraged Tucker to present Tech’s initiative to other schools within the system, hoping they would adopt similar programs.
When asked about the importance of Institute wide ethical leadership, student Rubi Runton, second-year BIOS noted, “I’d say most of my interaction with peers and professors have demonstrated a high degree of integrity. I think leadership at Tech needs to be ethically minded because professors and administration set the standard for just treatment of students. The more fair a professor is, the more likely it is that students will follow honor codes and other academic integrity guidelines.”
Similarly, another student, Greta Hiehle second-year BME emphasized, “I have enjoyed the events I’ve attended so far. The Safe Space training was really interesting and helped me to understand the importance of cultivating a culture of open communication with the student body. This training will promote honesty and diversity of thought within the classroom and in social settings.”
Ethics Week represents a microcosm of the principles Tech holds most dear: honesty, integrity, and inclusivity, and seeks to continue to bring these ideals to the student body in new and exciting ways they are typically not used to seeing them presented in.
Initiatives like this one create meaningful dialogue amongst students and faculty; the collaboration of various offices at Tech to put together this annual event is spearheading a paradigm shift at institutions across Georgia, which is necessary for progress.
For more information about ethics week, visit generalcounsel.gatech.edu.