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INITIATIVE FOR ETHICS AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Mr. Stephen F. Black, Director
Office: Temple Tutwiler Hall

Believing that The University of Alabama has a critical role to play in preparing students to serve as effective, engaged and ethical citizens, the Initiative for Ethics and Social Responsibility (IESR) seeks to assist students in developing a distinctive definition of moral and civic maturity, making the values and skills of citizenship a hallmark of a University of Alabama education.

The University of Alabama's strong commitment to civic engagement and UA's history of community-university partnerships serve as a foundation for the IESR. Faculty and students in a wide range of departments at UA have earned distinction for their scholarly contributions to the study of ethics and civic engagement. The IESR builds upon these substantial resources, with the larger goal of linking curriculum and the campus culture by establishing multiple sites through which students can engage in meaningful service for academic credit and in thoughtful consideration of the ethical obligations they have toward their fellow citizens.

In particular, the IESR staff assists faculty members in developing service-learning courses that engage community organizations in partnerships designed to both enhance academic learning goals as well as to apply scholarly learning to salient community issues. The service experiences are to be integrated into the students' academic curricula, providing structured time for students to think, talk, and write about what they did and saw during the activities.

In seeking to better connect social responsibility and ethical development to the academic mission of the University, the work of the IESR also entails the development of academic programs such as Moral Forum (a university-wide debate competition, serving as an integral part of the University Honors Program), a minor in civic engagement and leadership (co-sponsored by New College, the Department of Philosophy, the ROTC program, and the IESR), as well as courses such as Documenting Justice (a justice-based anthropological documentary filmmaking/journalism class), and the Nonprofit Enrichment Team (a multidisciplinary team of students who provide a variety of critical services to new and developing nonprofit agencies and community organizations operating in Alabama's disadvantaged communities). The IESR is also concerned with developing and supporting non-curricular activities that incorporate ethical and social discourse into campus life.

The Initiative for Ethics and Social Responsibility began in fall 2005 as a result of a gift from Mignon C. Smith. Concerned about what she perceived to be an increasing lack of ethics in business and public affairs, Ms. Smith sought to establish a university-based ethics program that would support the study of ethics and develop projects to nurture social responsibility and reflective, thoughtful citizenship. Under the leadership of UA President Robert Witt, Provost Judy Bonner, and with the help of an interdisciplinary group of UA faculty, this vision became the Initiative for Ethics and Social Responsibility.

To learn more about the IESR, contact cesr@ua.edu or (205) 348-6490. The IESR can also be visited on the web, at http://bama.ua.edu/~cesr, or in person at Temple Tutwiler Hall on Colonial Drive, next to Reese Phifer Hall.

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