Adams State joins Daniels Fund and UCCS in program to enhance ethics education


Adams State University is among nine colleges and universities participating in the Southern Colorado Higher Education Consortium Ethics Program. With the goal of broadening principle-based ethics education, the pilot program is led by University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS) in conjunction with the Denver-based Daniels Fund. The program commits $120,000 toward training, support, and engagement with the cooperating schools over the next four years.

"This is going to be great," said Dr. Zena Buser, professor of business, who is Adams State's Ethics Champion for the project. "While I am quite sure we already convey ethical principles across campus, this added focus will provide continuity for students and help them prioritize those considerations when they enter their careers."

Dr. Zena Buser, professor business, is Adams State's Ethics Champion.

By collaborating with others in the program, Buser will develop teaching processes, participate in Faculty Roundtables, and provide professional development for Adams State faculty. She is working with Dr. Tracy Gonzales-Padron, UCCS professor and Director of the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at UCCS.

"I would like to bring something multi-disciplinary that is applicable across campus. The focus will be on teaching," Buser added.

According to psychologist James Rest, who has conducted contemporary research in the field of moral development, a key developmental window exists in young adults between the ages of 20-30 when basic problem-solving strategies used to address ethical issues are molded. This development is linked to fundamental changes in how a person perceives his or her role in society.

Therefore, the Ethics Program is intended to help students:
  1. Understand universal ethical principles, anchored in a business perspective
  2. Understand that principles are constant foundations for all situations
  3. Understand that application of ethical principles always has positive long-term impact
  4. Identify ethical implications in real-world situations
  5. Apply ethical principles in real-world decision making
  6. Embody and model ethical principles in a business environment

As Adams State's Ethics Champion, Buser's primary objective is to expand the engagement of students in ethical thought and decision making. Toward this end, she will participate in workshops hosted at UCCS and encourage the Adams State campus community to participate in workshops and speaker series throughout the academic year. She will also coordinate a UCCS faculty-led "Teaching Across the Curriculum Workshop" at Adams State that will highlight ethics education in all disciplines. She recently attended a workshop at UCCS entitled "The Future of Drones: Where does it intersect with Ethics?"

"Ethical decision making skills have never been more important in business and throughout society, and we are excited to be a resource and catalyst for this important curriculum. We intend to expand ethics education throughout southern Colorado and learn from each other how to best integrate ethics curriculum to foster principle-based leadership in our region," said Venkat Reddy, dean of the UCCS College of Business and Administration, which houses the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative. As a resource for principle-based ethics education, serving students, educators, business leaders and the community, it will serve as the hub for this outreach.

The participating schools, all part of a Southern Colorado Education Consortium, include:

  • Adams State University
  • Colorado State University – Pueblo
  • Ft. Lewis College
  • Western State Colorado University
  • Lamar Community College
  • Otero Junior College
  • Pueblo Community College
  • Pikes Peak Community College
  • Trinidad State Junior College

By Julie Waechter