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In July of 2011, Peace College announced it would become coeducational, admitting men to our traditional day program beginning in the fall of 2012 and changing our name to William Peace University effective immediately. Thus, the name William Peace University (WPU) will be used throughout this report. Founded as Peace Institute in 1857, with a name change to Peace College when associate degrees were added, Peace has a history of purposeful change that helps us stay vibrant as an educational institution and meet the needs of today's students. Our chosen topic for the QEP, Ethical Decision Making, connects well to our mission statement which indicates we "prepare students for careers in the organizations of tomorrow" and help them develop "skills for ethical citizenship." (William Peace University Mission Statement, Academic Catalog, 2011-2012 p.8)
In a few places throughout this report, "women" or "women students" will be purposefully used to describe data collected in 2011 or before when Peace was a women's college. These data were used to support our decision to offer ethical decision making as our topic choice and remain relevant to our report. The topic selection of ethical decision making applies equally well to men as evidenced by primarily male institutions adopting ethical decision making as part of their programming or mission (e.g., The Citadel, The US Naval Academy, and Virginia Military Institute) and the call from employers to better prepare students for the ethical dilemmas they will face as professionals (Shivpuri & Kim, 2004).
William Peace University currently enrolls about 600 students in the undergraduate, daytime program which offers 11 majors, about 20 minors, and the opportunity to take classes at any other Raleigh college or university through the Cooperating Raleigh Colleges consortia. Over 80% of the student body comes from North Carolina, almost all of whom are traditional-age college students (18-24), with approximately 25% of the students representing a minority group.
In response to data which indicate some students lag in areas critical to achieving our mission at the highest level and emphasis from employers on ethics as a key quality for employees (Shivpuri & Kim, 2004) we have chosen ethical decision making as our QEP topic. Based on our review of existing literature, we have chosen to define ethical decision making as follows.
Ethical decision making is the process of making decisions about human conduct. It requires individuals to assess their ethical values and the social context of problems, recognize ethical issues in a variety of settings, consider the ramifications of alternative actions, and justify their final decision.
Making ethical decisions requires individuals to have knowledge of ethical constructs, values that guide ethical decision making, and reasoning skills that allow them to appreciate the complexities of a situation and arrive at a well-reasoned conclusion. The QEP, launched in the summer of 2011, has multiple methods infused throughout curricular and co-curricular programming beginning with first-year student orientation and followed by required courses in the first year, junior year, and senior year. An Eight-Question Model for evaluating ethical dilemmas and core values related to ethical decision making is covered in each of the three required courses. Our implementation strategies take students through a developmental process in which they first examine personal ethical issues typically faced by first-year college students, to career and workplace ethical issues, and finally to societal ethical issues. Our QEP is also developmental in that students first gain self-awareness of their values and decision-making styles, then learn to apply ethical reasoning when confronted with ethical dilemmas, and finally, begin integrating values and ethical reasoning. These required elements are supplemented by the incorporation of ethical case studies in a number of classes and an annual ethical case study competition. The curricular and co-curricular experience, which lasts from the first year until graduation, is aptly named CHOICES as a way of reflecting both the complexity and responsibility of becoming an ethical decision maker.