About Us

Director: Dr. Bernhard Debatin, Professor of Multimedia Policy
Ohio University -- E.W. Scripps School of Journalism
Schoonover Center 247A
Athens, OH 45701
Phone: 740-593-9147
email:  appliedethics@ohio.edu

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Mission:  The Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics (IAPE) aims to advance practical ethical and moral understanding, judgment, and decision making. It assists students and faculty of Ohio University and the larger community through interdisciplinary discussion, education, and collaboration. Its particular focus is on applied and professional fields, where real-life ethical dilemmas and conflicts need to be analyzed and resolved. Through research and educational activities -- such as public lectures, panel discussions, seminars and workshops -- it addresses academics, professionals, business managers, public officials, policymakers, and the general public.  "Applied ethics" includes moral, social, and political philosophy, which is why the Institute may also contribute to public debates on social justice, environmental issues, or socio-political controversy.

Action plan:  The Institute emphasizes professional and applied ethics, particularly in departments and disciplines with a professional orientation, such as media and communication, engineering, medicine, nursing, and business, but also in the larger community. In addition to organizing events on ethics issues, the Institute's goal is to contribute to both educating future professionals and providing training workshops for faculty in these disciplines. The institute also promotes well informed, critical reflection about economic, social, as well as environmental sustainability and climate change in relation to human rights and social justice. 

Funding: Due to the lack of funding, programming opportunities have been rather limited. Therefore, the Institute always welcomes and strongly supports co-sponsored activities. Originally funded through grants, the IAPE used to have an annual budget of about $100,000, which enabled the institute to develop systematic programming with high profile events, faculty and student workshops, and interdisciplinary collaborations. It also allowed the IAPW for hiring an associate (managing) director and occasionally some faculty, too. During the 2008 recession, however, the institute lost almost all of its funding. Since 2011 the IAPE has been funded entirely by Ohio University, which has provided a few thousand dollars per year for guest speakers' travel expenses and honoraria, video-makers' fees, publicity expenses, and books for workshop participants.

History:  The IAPE was founded (as a Program) in 1988 as a result of an Ohio Board of Regents’ Academic Challenge Grant.  The Program was officially given Institute status in 1995.  The original grant was written under the auspices of Associate Provost David Stewart by the following Ohio University faculty members:  Donald Borchert and Arthur Zucker (Philosophy); Ralph Izard and Michael Bugeja (Journalism); John Stinson and Richard Milter (Business); William Duerfeldt (Osteopathic Medicine); and Nicholas Dinos (Engineering).  The first Board of Directors consisted of Borchert, Zucker, Izard, Bugeja, Stinson, and Milter.  Zucker was chosen as Director while the other Board members served in an advisory capacity.  Dr. Zucker retired in 2011. 

The Institute's Director from 2011 to 2016 was Dr. Alyssa R. Bernstein (Philosophy).  She received her PhD in 2000 from Harvard University's Department of Philosophy, where her dissertation advisors included John Rawls, Hilary Putnam, and T. M. Scanlon (chair).  Before coming to Ohio University, she was a Fellow of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (2000-2001 and 2001-2002).  

Since July 1, 2016, Dr. Bernhard Debatin (Journalism) has been the Director of the Institute. His and research interests include media ethics and ethics of technology, social media, international media, communication theory, and metaphor theory. He teaches courses in media ethics, theoretical/conceptual topics, environmental and science journalism, qualitative research methods, and online journalism. He received his Ph.D. in 1994 from the Institute for Philosophy of Berlin's Technical University, where he focused on ethics, philosophy of technology, and philosophy of language. Bernhard Debatin came to Ohio University in the Fall of 2000 as an IAPE visiting professor and was offered a tenure track position in journalism as of Fall 2001. Before coming to Ohio University, he was an associate professor at the Communication and Media Studies department of Leipzig University, teaching media ethics, communication theory, and theory of the public sphere.

Advisory Board: The members of the IAPE's Advisory Board currently include Austin Babrow (Communication Studies), Geoffrey Buckley (Geography), Geoffrey Dabelko (Environmental Studies), Bernhard Debatin (Journalism), Nancy Manring (Political Science) and Alyssa R. Bernstein (Philosophy).

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