22 May 2007

The Open University responds to ethics debate by launching new centre

Ethics issues on OU agenda

Ethics issues on OU agenda

Ethical issues are at the heart of many of the topics that dominate the world agenda. The Open University this week is launching a new international Ethics Centre that, alongside teaching and research, aims to engage public debate.

University Vice-Chancellor Professor Brenda Gourley said the interdisciplinary centre was well-placed to play a significant role in ethical debate among a global society.

“In an increasingly complex and globalised world, the importance of ethics – and of our understanding of the key ethical concepts that we all use – continues to grow. The Open University’s new Ethics Centre aims to have a significant role in the debate,” she said.

The Centre’s research activity will focus on both the understanding of key ethical issues within today’s society, and on engaging public debate about the most pressing moral problems faced by the global society.

Its teaching activity will see an extension of a University-wide curriculum in which ethical components already have a significant role – in subjects as diverse as environmental ethics and managing care. New courses, which will use the flexible teaching methods and premium learning resources for which the University is well-known, will aim to spread ethical understanding as widely as possible.

“The objectives for research, teaching and public engagement match the University’s wider objectives in education and social justice,” said Professor Gourley, who spearheaded the development of the new venture, “The Open University has a strong and expanding research culture, and a distinguished position in the arena of educational technology. The Ethics Centre at the University is well placed to exploit these advantages, and to play its role in an increasingly important – but increasingly complex – global debate.”

Centre director Professor Tim Chappell said the focus of the centre is wide-ranging. “The emphasis will not just be on medical ethics or legal ethics or environmental ethics, but on all of ethics; ethics in the round. We are looking for enthusiasts in all these disciplines to develop agendas of their own.”

The Centre will be formally launched at an inaugural conference – titled Ethics in Real Life - at the University’s headquarters at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, on Wednesday, May 23. Speakers and participants will include Lord Puttnam, the University’s Chancellor; Catherine Cameron, co-author of the Stern Review on Climate Change; Professor Brad Hooker, Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Reading; Jeremy Hunt MP, shadow minister for disabled people; and Sir John Drysdale, a member of the executive board of Transparency International UK, The Coalition Against Corruption.

Editor's notes
Journalists intending to attend the conference are asked to contact Neil Coaten, contact details right.

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