Grant to revolutionise Notre Dame’s approach to teaching ethics

01/11/2011

University of Notre Dame Australia News Story
Dr Bernadette Tobin presents Associate Professor Sandra Lynch with the research grant on behalf of the Mary Philippa Brazill Foundation.

The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Centre for Faith, Ethics and Society is revolutionising the way in which its staff teach ethics to Nursing and Medicine students, thanks to a research grant from the Mary Philippa Brazill Foundation.

Research has found that while professionals across a range of industries were capable of reliably identifying incidents of malpractice in the workplace – such as corruption, sexual abuse and mistreatment of clients or staff – they felt that their organisations did not provide a supportive ethical framework in which they could address or report the incidents.

The Centre hopes to affect change in this area by equipping Notre Dame staff members with innovative and creative methodological approaches to the teaching of ethics.

Associate Professor Sandra Lynch, Director of the Centre for Faith, Ethics and Society, said supplying tomorrow’s health care professionals with the tools to act upon their values was imperative for the direction of the industry.

“The project will recommend teaching practices, which provide students with scenarios in which  they are faced with an ethical dilemma and must explore strategies to enable them to act upon their values,” Associate Professor Lynch said.

“We would like to move beyond theorising about ‘what ethical behaviour is’ to equipping students with the knowledge of how to go about dealing with multifaceted ethical issues and acting in a way that effects positive change in their workplaces.”

Dr Bernadette Tobin, Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics and one of the founders of the Mary Philippa Brazill Foundation, presented the grant to Associate Professor Sandra Lynch and said the Centre’s outstanding proposal was in line with the Foundation’s aim to promote ethics in health care in Catholic institutions.

“The trustees were very taken by the idea of Associate Professor Lynch undertaking work to improve the values that are so often missing in healthcare education,” Dr Tobin said.

Associate Professor Lynch said the project had the potential to revolutionise the teaching of ethics.

“We are very grateful for this opportunity to develop the healthcare ethics project,” Associate Professor Lynch said.

“It is a small project, but if it succeeds, it’s the beginning of a model that can be implemented throughout Notre Dame and other universities.”

The project is scheduled to begin in early 2012, when the Centre will be hosting Dr Mary Gentile, Senior Research Scholar at Babson College Massachusetts, who will conduct workshops on these methods at the University’s Sydney and Fremantle Campuses.

Dr Gentile is the Creator and Director of Giving Voice to Values, an innovative curriculum for developing the skills, knowledge and commitment required to implement values-based leadership. From 1985 to 1995, she worked at Harvard Business School as faculty member, researcher and administrator and has since operated as an independent consultant. Dr Gentile is the author of numerous books and articles, including Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know It’s Right, from Yale University Press.

Dr Gentile visited Notre Dame’s Sydney Campus earlier this year and the Centre is delighted to welcome her once again to work more closely with the Schools of Medicine and Nursing.


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