Vann Center expands with new programs
Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009
Updated: Thursday, October 1, 2009 11:10
The study of ethics on campus moves to a higher plane this year with the opening of the Vann Center for Ethics and the attendance of four seniors at the Symposium on Ethical Decision-Making and Moral Values to be held at Hilton Head in November.
The Vann Center for Ethics serves as "a catalyst for moral inquiry, interdisciplinary reflection, civil dialogue, careful analysis and responsible action regarding ethics," said Dr. David Perry, Professor of Applied Ethics and Director of the Vann Center for Ethics.
Jim Vann '50 and his wife Lee donated a major gift to the College to establish an ethics center about two years ago. College President Tom Ross established an advisory committee to develop the Center's mission, which was adopted last May, and Perry was recruited to become the Center's Director.
"Davidson's campus has always been infused with honor and ethics," Perry said. "One of the reasons folks were attracted to founding the Center this year is that this is the centennial year of the student-run honor system. Later this fall we will host a panel discussion about the Davidsonian tradition of honor and integrity."
The Vann Center is housed on the first floor of Eumenean Hall and partners with a variety of organizations on campus to brainstorm ethical issues that people are interested in discussing. The Center hosts events such as lectures and open discussions about ethical issues.
There have already been three events this fall that were well attended by students including the presentation "Physicians' Integrity and Ties to Industry," given by Dr. Lance Stell, Davidson's Thatcher Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Medical Humanities Program, and Perry's own lecture entitled "Ethics and War in Comparative Religious Perspective."
Funding for the Vann Center also allows for two additional ethics courses to be offered each year, both taught by Perry.
"The Vann Center emphasizes Davidson's approach to facilitating well-rounded growth in all Davidson students," said Athan Makansi '10, Chair of the Honor Council and Member of the Vann Center's Advisory Board. "It encourages students to grapple with questions of conduct. These questions are just as important as questions of academia that we all encounter in the classroom."
While many organizations on campus already inform the current ethical climate on campus, the Vann Center focuses on ethical deliberation across disciplines, and it provides venues for dialogue around ethics.
The Vann Center currently is establishing a Student Advisory Group, which will evaluate the Center's events, help plan future programs and moderate discussions. The group will meet once a month to ensure the Vann Center is satisfying student interest on campus. Anyone interested in joining should email Perry at daperry.
Separate from the Vann Center, four senior students have the opportunity to attend the November 5-7 Symposium on Ethical Decision-Making and Moral Values to be held in Hilton Head, SC. The symposium is sponsored by the Men of the Church organization of the First and Providence Presbyterian Churches of Hilton Head and is in its 32nd year.
John Syme '85, Senior Writer for the Office of College Communications, will escort students to the symposium, which will provide a venue for discussing topics relating to business, organizational and personal ethics; public policy and the common good; bioethics; and personal experience. The symposium will be academic in nature, as students need to read all the assigned background documents and cases studies beforehand.
Interested students should contact josyme for more information about applying for the event. The selection of four seniors will be based on "why they are interested, what they can bring to the symposium (academic and otherwise), and what they hope to gain," Syme said.
"We want Davidson students to represent our college and especially this year when we are celebrating honor and integrity," Syme continued. "Just look at the headlines of all the unethical things in the world. Ethics is a huge piece of leadership and service."