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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Jesuit Professor Speaks on University Ethics

On March 19, The University of Massachusetts Boston was visited by Father James Keenan of Boston College.

Father Keenan, who is the Director of Boston College’s Jesuit Institute, came to speak on the concept of breeding a culture of ethics at the university and how to begin the process. This is further developed and explored in Father Keenan’s 2015 book, ”University Ethics: Why Colleges Need a Culture of Ethics.” Father Keenan is also a priest in alliance with the Archdiocese of Boston.

The Ethics Series is brought to UMass Boston by the school’s Applied Ethics Center. This center is led by UMass Boston philosophy professor Nir Eisikovits.

The Mass Media was unable to reach Father Keenan at the time of writing this article, but was able to get information from a podcast that was done with Father Keenan and Professor Nir Eisikovits.

A culture of ethics involves setting a standard of behavior and encouraging an environment for it to thrive. Different institutions have boards of influencers sometimes called trustees that are in charge of the decisions of an institute, but do not always have the same consequence to the success of their objectives. These boards may differ from the hired directors who have a job criteria and job security is the consequence of their success. These boards move institutes in the manner they see to be fit. These boards are usually trustees, shared administrators, or a single ruler amongst allied organizations.

This terminology can be categorized as a silo mentality, where one department does not speak horizontally across other departments working in the same building as them. Silo mentality involves separate unions or sectors working in single objective directed gains rather than working in overlapping harmony. Communication does not exist amongst departments without properly crossing across channels horizontally and vertically to facilitate different views and skill sets.

In his podcast, Father Keenan speaks of the Archdiocese scandal that came to light at the beginning of the millennium. Although it occurred for a length of time before 2000, actual court proceedings are when attempted resolutions and reconstruction began.

Father Keenan explains that priests were formally and thoroughly educated on ethics to teach parishioners and those who required guidance. “I had to take courses in moral theology, sexual ethics, medical ethics, and in business ethics and social ethics. All these were the ethics of other people. We were supposed to be talking about the ethics of the married people and the ethics of the business people… but we never talked about our own personal ethics, what was expected of us.”

Churches are not the only institutes that teach ethics stated Father Keenan, explaining: “The other institute that teaches ethics is the university. In fact much more so than the Church. It publishes books, it publishes lots of research on ethics, and it teaches legal ethics, it teaches medical ethics… all your medical ethics are for the most part done by professors.”

Father Keenan argues that educators are disconnected from the places and the subjects they teach. He argues that while some educators may teach medical or legal ethics, they may not follow or be taught the basic foundation of ethics among their community. Father Keenan explains that there is not enough importance being placed on faculty ethics. “I want to talk about the campus, I want to talk about the so-called University community, and say s that an ethical place?”
The current system is dragging the university’s and faculty’s focus away from student’s success and instead on job retention. “A university gives you the idea that there’s a lot of intermingling, but there really isn’t—you know, people are in their departments. And this is an enormous problem.”