Added Values

New project will develop a 'Culture of Integrity'

With a $2.6 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, Emory is preparing to launch the Emory Integrity Project (EIP), a comprehensive effort to promote and develop a culture of ethics and integrity throughout Emory's undergraduate experience.

Emory Integrity Project: What Does a Culture of Integrity Look Like?

The EIP, a joint project of Emory’s Center for Ethics and its Division of Campus Life, is intended to make Emory a national model for integrating ethics and integrity in undergraduate life, says Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics and project leader of the grant.

“The goal of the Emory Integrity Project is to make ethics and integrity a narrative theme that carries throughout the four years of the undergraduate experience,” he says.

“A liberal education has always been understood to have among its goals that of promoting ethical thinking,” says Robin Forman, dean of Emory College. “The Emory Integrity Project raises interesting and important questions about the forms that an education in ethics and integrity can and should take in the context of the modern liberal arts research university.”

For Ajay Nair, senior vice president and dean of Campus Life, the project offers another way to put the University’s vision into action.

“Emory’s vision statement elevates ethical engagement to a central place in the University’s self-concept,” he says. “Our distinctiveness makes Emory the ideal place for living out the vision of what academic engagement and student transformation in a residential setting can be.”

Integrity is most commonly understood as holding true to those values that constitute one’s moral identity, or as holding steadfast to commitments, but also much more, Wolpe says. “It is an integration of your morally and ethically grounded convictions that are developed and maintained by sustained reflection and realized through moral courage and action. That is why the university is such a fruitful place to explore those convictions, at
a time in the life cycle when students are solidifying their moral identity.”

The EIP will kick off this summer with two signature initiatives: One, creation of a campuswide discussion on a “culture of integrity,” beginning with a student-led reimagining of Emory’s approach to honor and integrity that will ultimately lead to programmatic and cultural changes throughout the University. And two, a yearly theme on some aspect of ethics and integrity, reflected in a new common reading program. Every incoming student will be sent a common reading over the summer before arriving at Emory, which will serve as a basis for a yearlong series of discussions and programming on that year’s theme. 

The common reading will be integrated into a number of first-year seminar courses. Every first-year student is required to take one of the small-enrollment courses, which cover nearly every discipline and allow students to work closely with the faculty teaching the courses.

The EIP will bolster already successful programs for first-year students at Emory such as the University’s signature Health 100 course, required of all freshmen in their first semester. Health 100 aims to enhance student appreciation of personal well-being with focused activities involving reflections on values and strengths in the context of goal setting around health behaviors. Another hallmark will be the integration of a Personal Integrity Plan for each student’s cocurricular experience.

Through the EIP, the University will expand the number of students involved in community-based learning through a variety of successful efforts already on campus, such as Volunteer Emory, the LeaderShape Institute, and the Ethics and Servant Leadership Program.

“One product of the EIP will be curricula so that other colleges and universities can duplicate or adapt the EIP model to their campuses,” Wolpe says. “We want the EIP to provide a template for using integrity as a unifying and integrating theme in higher education.”

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