Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
Budget$3.7 million
DirectorDon Heider
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics logo.png

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University promotes research and dialogue in ten major ethics focus areas: Bioethics, Business Ethics, Campus Ethics, Character Education, Government Ethics, Internet Ethics, Journalism and Media Ethics, Leadership Ethics, Social Sector Ethics, and Technology Ethics. The Center develops many practical tools, including a framework for ethical decision making, materials for practice-oriented ethics training programs in the technology industry called Ethics in Technology Practice, and several MOOCs on ethics. The center also offers public talks, workshops, and training in addition to sponsoring activities on the SCU campus for students, faculty, and staff. The center was created by an endowment from Apple Inc. co-founder Mike Markkula and his wife Linda Markkula.

Focus areas[edit]


Through partnerships with area hospitals and hospices, the center works in the area of clinical ethics, especially in developing policies on issues such as organ donation after cardiac death and artificial nutrition and hydration.[1][2] The hospitals also provide the sites for a Health Care Ethics Internship for undergraduates.[3] The center's bioethics research has focused on "Medical Decision Making for Un-befriended and Unrepresented Patients," "Culturally Competent Care," and "Pandemic Ethics." Bioethics Director Margaret R. McLean was a consultant to the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health on pandemic ethics. She served as an advisor to the California Senate Select Committee on Genetics and is currently a consultant to the California Department of Public Health.

Business Ethics[edit]

The center's Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership brings together business executives and business ethics scholars from Santa Clara University and other Bay Area institutions. The partnership is a forum to learn how to create an ethical organizational culture.[4] It has sponsored research on issues such as "Encouraging Internal Whistle blowing" and "Corporate Moral Responsibility and the Ethics of Product Usage." The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics also offers programs for boards on directors on assessing the ethical culture of their organizations. The center's former executive director, Kirk O. Hanson, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Aspen Institute's Center for Business Education.

Campus Ethics[edit]

More than 70 members of the Santa Clara University faculty are scholars of the Ethics Center with expertise in a variety of fields from literature to engineering. The center offers both faculty and student Hackworth Grants for research on applied ethics and Hackworth Fellowships for students interested in creating programming on ethics for their peers. The Campus Ethics Program also organizes presentations on ethics in many applied fields, including technology, diversity, immigration, law, and other topics.[5]

Character Education[edit]

The center's Character-Based Literacy Program,[6] which weaves ethics into the curriculum, is used by the offices of education in the majority of California's 50 counties, in addition to many individual schools and districts throughout the country. The program provides detailed lesson plans, literature recommendations, and concrete activities that address ethical questions within the parameters of the Common Core for middle and high school language arts, high school US History, World History, Biology, and Earth Science. The Center provides a similar program in the language arts for Catholic schools.

Government Ethics[edit]

The center's main focuses in government ethics includes conflicts of interest, gifts and bribes, cronyism, lobbying, transparency, and the personal lives of public officials.[7] The Center's Ethics Roundtable for locally elected officials convenes mayors, councilpeople, county supervisors, and members of special districts quarterly to discuss how these issues play out in their work. Former Director of Government Ethics Hana Callaghan died suddenly in January 2020 after her appointment in 2014.[8]

Internet Ethics[edit]

With a special focus on privacy, the Ethics Center offers presentations and teaching modules on such topics as data, social media, the "right to be forgotten," cybersecurity, ethics in video games, search engines, and privacy by design. Internet Ethics Program Director Irina Raicu is an attorney and a Certified Information Privacy Professional (U.S.).

Journalism & Media Ethics[edit]

The Journalism & Media Ethics program area focuses on addressing the ethical implications of how journalistic "gatekeeping" has changed in a digital era. In close collaboration with journalists, editors, and technologists, Journalism & Media Ethics helps members of the public engage with journalists, helps journalists equip themselves with in-depth knowledge on complex issues they cover, and helps stakeholders across the digital ecosystem defuse the rapid spread of misinformation and disinformation that frequently disguises itself as news.

Leadership Ethics[edit]

The center works with businesses, nonprofits, governments, and other organizations to analyze real-world issues in leadership ethics and to develop programs and tools to address them. Leadership Ethics Director Ann Skeet was CEO of American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley, and vice president of marketing for The Mercury News.

Technology Ethics[edit]

The Technology Ethics program area examines issues in the ethics of emerging technologies, providing teaching resources for universities and corporations, and working with organizations such as the Partnership on AI.[9] Some particular areas of focus include AI ethics, space ethics, ethics of human enhancement and transhumanism, and global catastrophic and existential risk.


  1. ^ "VMC Foundation achieves highest certification for nonprofit ethics – VMC Foundation". Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  2. ^ Bastian, R., Garner, R., Barron, J., Akowuah, E., and Mase, W (2016). “Georgia’s rural hospital closures: The common-good approach to ethical decision making”. Georgia Public Health Association. 298. Retrieved 10-15-2020
  3. ^ "Health Care Ethics Internship - Markkula Center for Applied Ethics". Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  4. ^ "Ethics by Design: New Report Helps Companies Move Beyond Compliance". Dark Reading. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-03-15. Retrieved 2010-03-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Leigh, Patricia (2006-06-23). "At Ethics Camp, Not-So-Tall Tales From the Dark Side -". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  7. ^ "Government Ethics - Focus Areas - Markkula Center for Applied Ethics - Santa Clara University". Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  8. ^ University, Santa Clara. "In Memoriam Hana Shields Callaghan". Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  9. ^ deloitteeditor. "Ethical Tech and the Responsible Enterprise". Retrieved 2020-12-15.

External links[edit]