IIT Code of Ethics
The process of writing a university-wide code of ethics for the IIT was begun in spring, 2005 by the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP). During a casual conversation, College of Science and Letters’ Board of Overseers member, Terence Heng, asked Vivian Weil, director of CSEP, whether IIT had a university-wide code of Ethics. IIT did not, and Dr. Weil, in conjunction with CSEP colleagues, Michael Davis, Robert Ladenson, and Elizabeth Quinlan, concluded that the Center should begin a project to develop the document. Codes of ethics typically articulate principles and guidelines shared among members of a group. Ideally, a code of ethics expresses a shared commitment to strive and satisfy certain ethical standards and principles, helps foster an environment that promotes ethical behavior, and can serve as a guide in specific situations. A university code of ethics would clearly articulate the ethical principles shared by members of the IIT Community, and serve as a guide for how we as individuals, and the institution as a whole, should conduct ourselves.
In June of 2005, an exploratory committee made up of CSEP faculty members, Bruce Fisher, Institute of Psychology, and members of the Center’s advisory board, Jack Hartray, William Parks, and Greg Barrett of the Institutional Advancement Staff met to discuss how the code should be developed. Those present at the meeting, decided to take a bottom-up approach to developing the code. Rather then allowing one group or person at the top to write the code, the committee, now known as the Exploratory Committee, decided to hold a series of focus groups made up of members from each major constituency of the IIT Community. At these meetings, individuals would discuss ethical issues they have confronted, and how the latest version of the IIT Code could be used to address to these issues.
After reviewing existing university-wide codes of ethics, the Exploratory Committee used the University of Southern California's Code of Ethics as a starting point and wrote the first rough version of the IIT Code of Ethics. CSEP Senior Fellow and philosopher Michael Davis fleshed out the draft into version 1.3 of the code in September of 2005, and this version was used as a starting point for discussion in the first focus group held in November of 2005.
From November 2005 to December 2006, focus groups were held for students, faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees. After each successive focus group, the Code was re-worked to reflect the changes suggested. Periodically, the Exploratory Committee would meet to discuss how development of the code was progressing.
The latest version of the IIT Code of Ethics has been reviewed for endorsement by focus groups representing students, trustees, administrators, faculty, and staff, as was recommended at combined meeting of members from each of the five focus groups and members of the Exploratory Committee. Before being sent to the focus groups, it was reviewed by someone who took no part in the code-making process, Susan Feinberg of the Humanities Department. She pronounced the code “clear, comprehensive, and cohesive.” An approval process that includeed a review of version 6.2 of the code by campus groups began in 2007, and so far the code has been approved by the IIT Student Government Association and Chicago-Kent College of Law. Though never fully ratified, the code is an important model for how a campus code of ethics can be developed through a collaborative process involvign all stakeholders.
The IIT Code of Ethics expresses a set of common ground rules for all members of the university community and a set of standards that we should strive to achieve. CSEP hopes that the Code of Ethics will be a living document, something that individuals turn to when they are faced with an ethical situation, and that will be modified in relation to new situations that may arise.
Timeline and Versions of the IIT Code of Ethics
Exploratory Committee Meeting - June 13, 2005
Version 1.3 - September 29, 2005
Faculty Focus Group - November 30, 2005
Version 2.0 - December 2, 2005
Exploratory Committee Meeting - December 12, 2006
Administration Focus Group - February 15, 2006
Version 2.1 - February 28, 2006
Exploratory Committee Meeting - March 24, 2006
Version 3.0 - March 28, 2006
Student Focus Group - April 18, 2006
- April 18, 2006
Version 4.2 - May 22, 2006
Exploratory Committee meeting for planning Trustee Focus Group- June 22, 2006
Version 4.3 - June 22, 2006
Trustee Focus Group - July 20, 2006
Version 4.3, changes suggested by Trustee Focus Group - July 20, 2006
Version 5.0 - July 28, 2006
Exploratory Committee Meeting - September 1, 2006
Version 5.0, changes suggested by Exploratory Committee - September 1, 2006
Simplified Code by Jack Hartray - date unknown
Version 5.2 - Oct. 26, 2006
Version 5.5, changes made by Vivian Weil before Combined Focus Group - November 15, 2006
Staff Focus Group - November 15, 2006
Combined Focus Group Meeting - December 12, 2006
Version 6.0 - December 15, 2006
Version 6.2, sent to representative councils for approval - February 27, 2007
Participants in the Project
Focus Group Members