Research News

Center for Ethics and Education announces inaugural senior fellows

July 29, 2015
by Paul Baker, Wisconsin Center for Education Research

The Center for Ethics and Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the first academic center of its kind in the United States, recently announced its appointment of five inaugural senior fellows.

Selected from leading universities across the country for their scholarship and diverse interests, the fellows will help establish the center as a network for philosophers to explore moral and political questions in educational policy and practice.

“We will offer various types of fellowships in the future, but the contributions of the senior fellows will be foundational,” states Paula McAvoy, the center’s program director. “The senior fellows will serve as resources for our graduate student training program, support and participate in conferences we organize and advise us on our activities and events, such as our upcoming grant awards competition.”

The center began operation this spring, with funding from a $3.5 million grant from the Spencer Foundation. A project of UW-Madison and the University of Illinois at Chicago's philosophy departments, and UW-Madison’s Department of Educational Policy Studies, the center is housed at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research within the university’s top-ranked public school of education.

“Our goal is to encourage contemporary moral and political philosophers to apply their tools and perspectives to concrete problems in education,” states the center’s principal investigator and director, Harry Brighouse, a UW-Madison professor of philosophy and educational policy studies.  “We believe a wide variety of education topics are ripe for philosophical scrutiny, from the long-standing differences in education resources available to various socio-economic, ethnic and racial groups, to the question of whether vouchers are a good use of public money.”

Anthony Simon Laden, associate director of the center and a professor and the chair of philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago adds, “We hope that bringing philosophers and education researchers into conversation will improve the quality of the philosophical and empirical work so that both serve as better resources for policy makers.”

The following scholars will join the center as it first fellows:

• Danielle Allen, director of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics for and a professor in the university’s department of government and graduate school of education. Allen is a political theorist who has published broadly on democratic theory, political sociology and the history of political thought.

• Kyla Ebels-Duggan, associate professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, specializes in moral and political philosophy and their history. Much of her work concerns the reason-giving authority that an individual’s ends or values have for others.  

• Jennifer M. Morton, assistant professor of philosophy at the City College of New York, CUNY, works in philosophy of action, education and politics. Her current work focuses on the implications of recent social science research into the importance of characteristics such as grit, perseverance and assertiveness.

• Walter Parker, professor of social studies education and political science at the University of Washington, conducts design-based research on high school government courses and studies civic education broadly, including the instructional effects of classroom discussion and mock political simulations. 

• Bryan Warnick, professor of philosophy of education and associate dean for academic affairs in Ohio State’s College of Education and Human Ecology, studies ethics and education in relationship to student rights, parent rights, educational equality, religion and education, technology and education, and the educational significance of pluralism.