February 27, 2006

Case community spotlights principles of ethics, fair scholarship during first annual "Integrity Week"

David Callahan
David Callahan

Ethics and fair scholarship are the focus of the Academic Integrity Board's first annual "Integrity Week", slated for February 27 through March 3 at various locations throughout the Case Western Reserve University campus.

The Academic Integrity Board—comprised of students, faculty and administrators—aims to create an environment where people are proud and respectful of what happens inside and outside the classroom, as well as improve the campus environment in relation to academic integrity. Integrity Week—also referred to as "I Week"—is a great way to focus on the issues, explained Clay Barnard, assistant vice president of student affairs.

According to organizers, "I Week" is designed to provide the university community and others with insight from noted figures in the area of ethics. The programs will help raise awareness of ethical considerations, encourage discussion on the topic, and focus on the campus' culture. "We wanted to look at the whole student—behavior in and out of the classroom—as well as faculty and staff," Barnard said.

The keynote speaker for the event is David Callahan, author of the book "The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead," on March 2 in the Thwing Ballroom from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. His book focuses on the state of ethics from the classroom to boardroom, and why it's become harder to live with integrity in the United States.

Barnard and Joseph Pieri, assistant dean in undergraduate studies, are both advisors to the Academic Integrity Board, and said although the number of students who come before the board for academic integrity violations is small, the majority of theses students tend to be first-year students. However, there are measures in place to address the topic and treat the presenting issue as an educational experience for the students. "We want to be fair. Students do make mistakes," Barnard said. The sanctions for violations are carefully selected depending on the presenting case. However, all students are required to go through ethics counseling as part of their sanctions. This seems to be working, as supported by the extremely low number of second offenses seen over the last four years, they explained.

Why is integrity an issue in the first place? "We've become a bottom line society. People feeling pressure are more apt to take shortcuts. If you don't get a leg up on the competition, you're apt to miss out," Pieri explained about why some students resort to cheating.

Another issue that will be addressed during "I Week" is the role faculty and staff can play when it comes to expectations surrounding integrity. "Students are so influenced by faculty. They can be inspired by them and want to emulate them," Pieri said. Faculty can continue to outline what the expectations are in the classroom—everything from group work to accessing tests from previous semesters. "We want students to feel like they can access faculty," he added.

Pieri explained that it's important to focus on integrity because of Case's role in the community and beyond. "We are a research university. The public needs to trust the research that comes out of here. Also, what you know and habits you form now are important for life after Case." In addition, "SAGES is in full implementation this year. One of the desires is to produce ethical thinkers."

In addition to the Callahan talk, other "I Week" events include:

  • The signing and display of a Pledge to Integrity banner
  • A panel discussion, "The Reciprocal Ethic of the Student-Faculty Relationship" moderated by Timothy Beal, the Florence Harkness professor of religion and director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities
  • A Career Center program on professional ethics in the workplace
  • An Academic Integrity Board information session

For a complete list of events, go to http://studentaffairs.case.edu/office/integrity/.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, February 27, 2006 05:23 PM | News Topics: Ethics, Lectures/Speakers

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.