Including Ethics in the Classroom

Conference to discuss intellectual virtues, ethics in teaching

OXFORD, Miss. – Two visiting keynote speakers will dive into the ethics behind education at the 23rd international conference for Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum, held this month for the first time at the University of Mississippi.

The conference is set for Oct. 6-8 at two locations on campus. The society sponsors the conference each year, examining research and teaching on ethics and the teaching of ethics. The agenda gives philosophers and students alike a chance to discuss the application and teaching of ethics and intellectual virtues in the classroom.

In education, the study of ethics teaches students how make informed decisions and to think deeply about problems using ethical theories and concepts as tools, said Deborah Mower, director of The Center for Practical Ethics at UM. 

“You can think about things all you like, but if you don’t have intellectual courage to enact them, you have no ethical action,” Mower said. “You need to be able to teach people the strategies to use ethics as tools and then give them opportunities to practice using those tools in order to develop skills.” 

“When you think about any type of engagement across people – interpersonal, political or civil, any type of engagement – there’s some ethics involved,” said Castel Sweet, director of the Center for Community Engagement, which is co-hosting the conference in partnership with The Center for Practical Ethics. “If people are involved, there are ethics in how you handle those situations.” 

The College of Liberal Arts, UM Lecture Series, School of Education and School of Business Administration are sponsoring the two keynote speakers: Brian Berkey, of the University of Pennsylvania; and Jason Baehr, of Loyola Marymount University. 

At 11 a.m. Oct. 7, Berkey will deliver the first keynote address at The Inn at Ole Miss. An associate professor of legal studies and business ethics, he will discuss the intersection of philosophy and social movements as well as the application of concepts such as effective altruism, the evidence-based path to benefiting others, to social engagement.

“There are different kinds of questions about how engagement of various kinds ought to proceed from a moral perspective,” Berkey said. “What are morally good ways of engaging?” 

At 11:45 a.m. the following day, Baehr will deliver the second address in Bryant Hall, Room 209. The professor of philosophy studies educating intellectual virtues, which he said are the character traits attributed to versatile learning and thinking.

“In order to act ethically or in a morally sound way, we need to think well,” Baehr said. “We need to ask the right questions. We need to think outside the box.

“You can’t train students to be ethically responsible if you can’t teach them to think well. Who we are as people depends in part on how we respond to – and whether we care about – values like knowledge, truth, evidence, wisdom and the like.” 

Sweet said she hopes attendees leave with questions about how ethics play into their everyday lives.

“It’s one of those things that touches everything, and you don’t really think about it,” Sweet said. “I would like for them to take away a different way of thinking. If there’s one or two things that come up for them that they had not thought about before, I think that would be a success.” 

Both keynote addresses are free and open to the public. Registration for the 2022 Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum conference is available at

For assistance with accessibility concerns, contact Brett King at 662-915-7020 or at least three days before the event.