The Evolution of Ethics Education 1980–2015

  • Deni Elliott
  • Karlana June


Ethics education became an integral part of most U.S. institutions of higher education between 1980 and 2015. Growth can be seen in institutional messaging, number of courses in ethics offered throughout the graduate and undergraduate curricula, national recognition of degrees and certificates granted in ethics by the federal National Center for Educational Statistics, creation of campus-wide ethics centers and co-curricular initiatives, and an explosion of peer-reviewed journals in the intersection of disciplinary areas and ethics. Yet, much research is yet to be done. Connections between ethics education and students’ civic and moral development remain unclear. The impact of ethics education remains unknown. There is no consensus on what counts as effective ethics education. Student voices are largely absent from discussions on the topic. And conversations relating to curricular and co-curricular ethics education continue to be divorced from analysis of the ethical implications of institutional choices.


Ethics Morality Values Ethics education Moral education Higher education Moral development Institutional ethics Education ethics Student ethics 



By Deni Elliott and Karlana June with thanks for research assistance and feedback from National Ethics Project co-investigators Jess Miner and Anne Newman. This chapter was produced in part from research funded by the Spencer Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South FloridaSt. PetersburgUSA

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