Morality and Justice in Higher Education

A conversation with Harry Brighouse

April 10, 2017
12-1:00pm, 198 Education Building

Join WISCAPE for a conversation with with Harry Brighouse, professor of philosophy, about the award-winning book he co-edited, The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice.

Topics of discussion will include whether a liberal arts education has social value; the aim of developing students into critical thinkers; and the ethical issues and pedagogical questions arising from recent criticisms, particularly from legislators, that faculty at highly selective universities are disproportionately liberal.

Event Flyer (PDF)

Morality and Justic in Higher Education

Inequality and the Public University

Thursday, October 20, 2016
4–5:15 pm, Wisconsin Idea Room, 141 Education Building

Laura Hamilton and Nancy Kendall will each draw upon their research and experiences to answer: How does inequality get reproduced within the university? What, if anything, can universities do to undo, or mitigate, these trends?

Join our public discussion, participate in small group conversations and exchange ideas with the featured speakers.


Laura T. Hamilton, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California-Merced
Author of Parenting to a Degree and co-author of Paying for the Party
Download Dr. Hamilton's comments

Nancy Kendall, Associate Professor Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Author of The Sex Education Debates and co-principal investigator of “Constructing Affordability: How Institutional and Relational Contexts Affect Retention of Undergraduates from Low-Income Families.”


Jennifer Morton, Assistant Professor Philosophy, City College of New York

Event Flyer (PDF)

Inequity and the Public University

The Right to a Quality Public College Education

March 4 and 5, 2016

In the spring, the Center hosted an invited conference in which participants were asked to think about the following questions:

  • What constitutes a quality public college education?
  • How, in a world of finite resources, should a quality public college education be distributed?
  • How it should be financed?
  • How should public institutions change in the light of the answers to those questions?

Participants were asked to read as set of materials prior to the conference, and the days were designed around a series of discussion prompts.  In addition, we heard presentations from Laura Hamilton, author of Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College Women’s Success; Michael McPherson co-author of, Lesson Plan: An Agenda for Change in American Higher Education; and Nancy Kendall and Matt Wolfgram, who discussed their on-going study, “Constructing Affordability: How Institutional and Relational Contexts Affect Retention of Undergraduates from Low-Income Families.”

If you are interested in learning more about this event, we have made the framing statement and the reading list with discussion questions available.

Framing Statement (PDF)

Reading and Discussion Questions (PDF)

Responsiveness as a Democratic Virtue

October 16 and 17, 2015

This fall, the Center hosted an invited conference on the topic, Responsiveness as a Democratic Virtue. Our purpose was to bring together a small group of philosophers, social scientists, and educators to discuss what the virtue of responsiveness is, what value it has for democratic life, and whether (and how) this value should be promoted in schools.

Our discussions began with this starting definition of responsiveness:
Being responsive (primarily to others, but we might also think about being responsive to the non-human world) involves being open to being moved or transformed by what others convey and do, especially in the course of the shared activity of living together (which includes working out the terms by which we live together).

This was not a meeting in which participants presented papers; instead, our hope was that focused discussion on the theme would inspire new work to be developed over the course of the next year. This same group will meet again in the fall of 2016 to share and discuss progress.

If you are interested in learning more about this event, we have made the framing statement and the reading list with discussion questions available.

Framing Statement (PDF)
Readings and Discussion Questions (DOCX)

The Ethics of Educating: Bridging the Ideal and Non-Ideal Divide

Jennifer Morton, Assistant Professor of Philosophy City College of New York

Thursday, April 9, 2015, 1–2:30 p.m.
Helen C. White Hall, Room 6191, 600 N. Park St.

Jennifer Morton is an assistant professor of philosophy at the City College of New York and will be a 2015-2016 Laurance S. Rockefeller Faculty Fellow at the Princeton Center for Human Values. Her areas of research are philosophy of action, moral philosophy, philosophy of education and political philosophy. She was born and grew up in Lima, Peru.

In her talk, Morton will argue that the educator, as a representative of the political community, is tasked with two aims—one more ideal than the other. The first is nurturing students with the skills and knowledge they need for the non-ideal world as they will find it. The second is educating future citizens for a more ideal future. She argues that these two aims lead educators to confront important dilemmas and suggests a possible resolution that is of interest not only to educators, but also to political theorists interested in the divide between ideal and non-ideal theory.

Jennifer Morton

Should Teachers Share Their Politics with Students?

Monday, March 23, 2015, 5:30–7:30 p.m.
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, DeLuca Forum
330 North Orchard Street, Madison, WI

5:30–6 p.m. Welcome Reception
6–7:30 p.m. Presentation, Discussion and Case Study

"When (if ever) should teachers share their political views with their students?"

The Center for Ethics and Education, a new project of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research within the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education, invites you to a discussion focused on the ethical dilemmas teachers confront when introducing controversial and political issues to their students.


Diana Hess, professor of curriculum and instruction, UW-Madison School of Education; and Paula McAvoy, program director Center for Ethics and Education, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, co-authors, The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education

Tony Laden, co-principal investigator Center for Ethics and Education, professor of philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago

Katie Jones, teacher, Malcolm Shabazz City High School


Harry Brighouse, co-principal invesigator Center for Ethics and Education, professor of philosophy and educational policy studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Political Classroom