Box 870168, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
The Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility began in fall 2005 as a result of a gift from Ms. Mignon C. Smith. Concerned about what she perceived to be an increasing lack of ethics in business and public affairs, Ms. Smith sought to establish a university-based ethics program that would support the study of ethics and develop projects to nurture social responsibility and reflective, thoughtful citizenship. Under the leadership of UA President Robert E. Witt, Provost Judy Bonner, and with the help of an interdisciplinary group of UA faculty, this vision became the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility.
Believing that the University of Alabama has a critical role to play in preparing students to serve as effective, engaged, and ethical citizens, the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility seeks to assist students in developing a distinctive definition of moral and civic maturity, making the values and skills of citizenship a hallmark of a University of Alabama education. Faculty and students in a wide range of departments at UA have earned distinction for their scholarly contributions to the study of ethics and civic engagement. CESR builds upon these substantial resources, with the larger goal of linking curriculum and campus culture by establishing multiple sites through which students can engage in meaningful service and thoughtful consideration of the ethical obligations they have toward their fellow citizens.
The University of Alabama’s strong commitment to civic engagement and its history of community-university partnerships serve as a foundation for the Center. CESR staff assist faculty members in developing service learning courses that engage community organizations in partnerships designed to both enhance academic goals and apply scholarly learning to salient community issues. The service experiences are to be integrated into the students’ academic curriculum, providing structured time for students to think, talk, and write about what they did and saw during activities. In seeking to better connect social responsibility and ethical development to the academic mission of the University, the work of CESR also entails the development and implementation of academic programs such as Moral Forum, a Minor in Civic Engagement and Leadership, and signature courses such as Documenting Justice and Every Move Counts. CESR is also concerned with developing and supporting non-curricular activities that incorporate ethical and social discourse into campus life.