Education today is essentially the same as it was in the monastic age when the University first arose. Read. Discuss. Write. The professor knows; the student learns. But this model is not just fragile; it is increasingly dysfunctional and unethical because students are not receiving the learning experiences they require successfully to manage the increasing complex and contingent environments they experience. It is not just that current education methods are obsolete; student cognitive patterns are changing in unpredictable ways. The best students operate within cognitive systems that are inaccessible to most of their professors, while the less prepared students fall further behind from the beginning. What is required is a thorough rethinking of the education framework from an ethical point of view that takes the content to be taught and the learner’s cognitive capacities and accessibility as crucial factors. It is necessary to move from the mass education model that was appropriate in the 1800’s to one that can ethically educate students to flourish in this digitally driven century. Recognizing this challenge, as a first step, the Lincoln Center is supporting the development of ethics games and teaching tools for modern software platforms that engage students in real world problems like how to ethically manage limited resources, or how to take joint action against global climate change.
The Lincoln Center has pioneered a Teaching Fellows Program that assists college professors in any discipline to remodel or develop courses within their major fields to include integrated ethics components. The Lincoln Center’s conception of involving ethics throughout the ASU curriculum is not to focus on a specific course, but to facilitate course-building by those who are experts in their disciplines and who recognize the need to integrate meaningful ethics education within the courses that students on career paths in their disciplines take. Consequently, the ethics most relevant to a chosen field of study becomes an integral part of the student’s learning experience and not an appendix that can be discarded upon commitment to pursuing a career in the field.
The Lincoln Center also is engaged in the ethics education of high schoolers in creative and engaging ways including contests that require the students to not only master the technology of a new device or digital platform, but also to understand its likely unethical use and how to combat it in a constructive and ethically effective way.
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