Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions

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The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP) at the Illinois Institute of Technology was established in 1976 to promote research and teaching on practical moral problems in the professions. The first interdisciplinary center for ethics to focus on the professions, CSEP continues to be one of the nation's leading centers for practical and professional ethics. It is known for its work on ethics in engineering and science and in related areas of business.[1]

As a non-degree granting department, the Center focuses on teaching of professional ethics. It generates professional ethics courses at IIT and assists faculty at other universities to prepare for teaching professional ethics and to develop courses and programs. CSEP's Ethics Across the Curriculum project, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, prepares instructors to integrate ethics in ordinary courses. The project includes workshops for IIT faculty, professional society representatives concerned with continuing education, and faculty from other institutions. In 1993, Robert Ladenson, an associate faculty member of the Center, started the Ethics Bowl an intercollegiate competition that two teams of undergraduates to answer questions about difficult ethical problems drawn from professional and social contexts. The Ethics Bowl has grown into a two-tiered competition where teams from over 100 colleges around the U.S. compete at the regional level for the chance to participate at the national level.

Externally funded projects enable CSEP to conduct interdisciplinary research involving practitioners, as well as academics from IIT and other institutions. Topics CSEP has addressed include intellectual property protection for science and technology, national security restrictions on the dissemination of scientific and technical information, responsible conduct in science, university/industry research relationships, organizational development, ethics in vocational education, and individual and collective responsibility in engineering.

CSEP assists professional societies in developing and revising codes of ethics and presenting ethics programs. It also conducts ethics workshops for business, trade associations, and city governments.

The Center maintains the world's largest online collection of codes of ethics, including around 1,000 codes from professional organizations, businesses, government agencies, and other institutions. It also has built the NanoEthicsBank, an online bibliography of materials on the social and ethical implications of nanotechnology.