Authors discuss ethical decision-making among college students
February 9, 2017
Plante some ethics in your brain.
As part of the Markkula Center’s winter series of events, the Department of Psychology hosted husband and wife Thomas and Lori Plante. The two recently co-wrote a book about how college students can practice ethical decision-making. Thomas is a psychology professor at Santa Clara and Lori is a clinical psychologist with her own private practice.
“Graduating with Honor: Best Practices to Promote Ethics Development in College Students” was published in Nov. 2016 and explores ethical development, principles for decision-making and goal-setting. The book also outlines the steps that universities, parents and students can take to foster the ethical development of college students.
“We’re not proposing or suggesting that colleges prescribe any particular ethical values or morality,” Lori Plante said. “But rather allow people to think individually and personally about their own personal, ethical code and be who they want to be.”
As professors at Santa Clara and the Stanford University School of Medicine respectively, Thomas and Lori Plante are familiar with ethical issues college students face.
The presentation focused on how philosophy about the study of ethics can relate to modern-day ethical dilemmas by providing a list of easily and accessible approaches to ethics. Some of the more prominent approaches included cultural relativism (the idea that one’s actions should be understood as part of their culture) and utilitarianism (the idea that one should maximize utility through actions).
Part of the appeal in studying college students is because of the exceedingly large number of ethical dilemmas that they face.
According to the statistics presented, there are approximately 1,400 alcohol-related deaths amongst college students each year, approximately 20 percent of college women are sexually assaulted and 43 percent of college students admit to cheating on tests.
“And (that 43 percent) are just those that are being honest,” Lori Plante said.
The Plantes also provided some mnemonics to support their claims. The Four I’s are used to refer to developmental tasks of emerging adults: identity, independence, intimacy and impulse Control. The RRICC Model is used to identify key concepts of ethical development: respect, responsibility, integrity, competence and concern.
At Santa Clara, there is an emphasis on the three C’s: competence, conscience and compassion.
The presentation concluded with the best practices to foster ethical development in college students. Among these was the new student orientation, which is completed by all students entering Santa Clara either as first years or transfers.
“The second a student enters a campus environment, part of that question is ‘Who are you going to be here?’ and ‘How are you going to be here?’” Thomas Plante said. “New student orientation (should be used) to make sure that ethical thinking, and frameworks, and so forth is part of that image.”
Their book is available on Amazon and other book vendors.
“The take home message is that ethical development among college students should be everybody’s business,” Thomas Plante said. “It should involve all the stakeholders. Everybody plays a role.”
Contact Grant Pustelnik at firstname.lastname@example.org.