Grant will Support Lecture Series on Ethics, Politics, Society
Wesleyan received a $200,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to
support an ongoing lecture series titled Ethics, Politics and Society. The
award was given in honor of Douglas Bennet’s 10 years as president of
“Wesleyan’s history of diversity, openness, and activism provides an
environment that embraces the opportunity for scholarly discourse around
issues of ethics, politics and society,” Bennet wrote in the endowment
proposal. “As a liberal arts college, we have a responsibility to produce
graduates who are able to think and act strategically within an ethical and
moral framework. A permanent lecture fund, which does not have to compete
each year for scarce financial resources, will go far in helping us achieve
The grant, awarded in December 2005, will allow Wesleyan to bring prominent
speakers to campus who will engage faculty and students in intellectual
discussions of critical and sensitive ethical, political and social issues.
The lecture fund will serve multiple university objectives. It will
stimulate intellectual life on campus by introducing new perspectives and
experiences to current issues; promote positive and civil political
discourse; lay a foundation for lifelong participation as concerned and
engaged citizens; and complement efforts already underway to incorporate
ethical reasoning in the curriculum.
Expenditures from the Mellon-funded program, estimated at $10,000 a year,
will be used for an honorarium, travel expenses and associated costs for the
speaker to give a public lecture, attend a class and/or meet informally with
faculty and students for one or two days.
“As on many college campuses, Wesleyan recognizes that recent national
events, as well as ongoing political and social unrest in several parts of
the world, have altered how students view society as well as how they
discuss their views,” Bennet says. “As students and later as graduates of
Wesleyan, they will be faced with moral and ethical choices. This will be
true, he says, in whatever courses of study or careers our students choose
to pursue, from business to scientific research to politics to art.”
Wesleyan is already stressing ethical reasoning in the curriculum. Wesleyan
has hired new faculty positions in ethics and encourages faculty to
designate courses that stress ethical reasoning.
The university also has established a faculty workshop to help them
integrate ethics in their courses. This year, students can chose from among
88 courses with an ethics designation.
“Wesleyan has a responsibility to prepare students to think clearly about
current issues, to make informed choices and resolve conflict between
diverse viewpoints,” Bennet says.