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Founded in 1976, the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions was the first interdisciplinary center of its kind to focus on ethics in the professions. During its forty year history, it has continued to be one of the nation's leading centers on practical and professional ethics.

As a non-degree granting department, the Center generates professional ethics courses at Illinois Tech and assists faculty at other universities to prepare for teaching professional ethics and to develop courses and programs. In 1976-78, the Center worked with Ilinois Tech faculty to develop one of the first engineering ethics courses in the United States, a course that is still taught today. Center staff also teaches courses in the Architecture and Humanities departments, and most recently lead an IPRO course exploring the use of cognitive enhancing stimulants for academic performance. More information is available in the teaching section of our web site.

The Center has also worked extensively to help integrate ethics into courses across Illinois Tech's many schools and departments. CSEP's Ethics Across the Curriculum a project, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, prepares instructors to integrate ethics in ordinary courses. The project includes workshops for Illinois Tech faculty, professional society representatives concerned with continuing education, and faculty from other institutions. Similar workshops are now taught throughout the United States.

In 1993, Robert Ladenson, an associate faculty member of the Center, started the Ethics Bowl, an intercollegiate competition where two teams of undergraduates to answer questions about difficult ethical problems drawn from professional and social contexts. The Ethics Bowl has grown into a two-tiered competition where teams from over 100 colleges around the U.S. compete at the regional level for the chance to participate at the national level. Illinois Tech has its own Ethics Bowl team, who takes part in competitions and sponsors events on campus throughout the academic year. 

The Center has a long history in collecting and writing codes of ethics. Since its founding CSEP has collected paper editions of professional codes of ethics and in 1998, the Center received a grant to put its collection of codes of ethics online. This resource has continued to grow over the years and comprises about 3,000 codes from over 800 different professional institutions, societies, and other organizations. In 1995, CSEP received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the development of the Software Engineers Code of Ethics by the e Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) Computer Society and the Association for Computing Machinery as they formed a Joint Steering Committee for the Establishment of Software Engineering as a Profession. The emails, draft version of the code, and the final version is all available through the Software Engineering Archive.  Ethics Center faculty and staff are happy to work with other organizations interested in developing codes of ethics, or lead workshops on professional ethics.

Throughout its history the Center has continued to strive to fulfill its mission of educating students as responsible professionals, reflecting on the wider implications of scientific progress, and  contributing to the shaping of technology in accordance with fundamental human values.

See photos of 40 years of CSEP events and activities from our 40th Anniversary Celebration.

You can read more about CSEP's history, past projects, and events.