Center for Academic Ethics

Ethics Conference 2017 Sessions

Ethics Conference Session Abstracts


I.  The Future of Ethical Citizenship

Keynote Address, MAU Ballroom, 8:30-9:30 am

Stephen Black, Director, Center for Social Ethics and Responsibility, Univ. of Alabama

Our civic organizations, nonprofits and institutions of higher education cannot, in good conscience, merely be occasional volunteer providers for the poor.  Often best situated to offer vision, credibility and direction, our civic, business and education leaders must participate in helping Americans increase the realm of duties we define as moral responsibilities.  Especially those leaders with extensive social capital and advanced degrees must realize that with the privilege of being well educated comes an obligation - an obligation to understand that every individual's life has dignity and worth, and everyone's health, education and potential to succeed is worth fighting for.

II.  Ethical Dilemmas in Promoting Transparency and Community Input in Public Service Work

Morning Plenary Session, MAU Ballroom, 10:45-11:45 am

Moderator:  Joe Gorton, PhD, United Faculty President and Associate Professor, Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminology, UNI


Pam Jochum, State Senator (Dubuque)

Keith Luchtel, Iowa Public Information Board member

Lyle Muller, Executive Director of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism

Dan Trelka, Waterloo Chief of Police

A fundamental principle of democracy is that the public has a right to information produced by and for government.  However, like other rights, this one is not absolute.  There are many instances in which public sector information should not be disseminated to the citizens. Deciding what information to release to whom is one of the most pressing ethical problems of governance.  Releasing information inappropriately can visit harm and injustice upon innocent people.  By contrast, unnecessary government secrecy is often a tool used for abusing power.  The purpose of this session is to explore the ethical terrain involved releasing and withholding public information.

III. Building a Culture of Ethics in Higher Education

Afternoon Plenary Session, MAU Ballroom, 3:00-4:00 pm

Moderator:  Abbylynn Helgevold, PhD, Instructor, Philosophy & World Religions, UNI


Timothy Adamson, PhD, Instructor, Humanities & Ethics, Hawkeye Community College

LeAnn Faidley, PhD, Associate Professor, Engineering Science, Wartburg College

Abbylynn Helgevold, PhD, Instructor, Philosophy & World Religions, UNI

Yasemin Sari, PhD, Assistant Professor, Philosophy & World Religions, UNI

Supporting social responsibility requires cultivating and supporting a broader “culture of ethics”1 in institutions of Higher Education.  Panelists will address the question of why ethics is needed in our academic environment, especially if we are to encourage social responsibility.  Panelists represent diverse fields of study and institutional affiliation.  Each will respond to the above question, and the panel will conclude with time for discussion.   1 James F. Keenan, SJ, University Ethics: How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics (Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield, 2015).



Lower level Maucker Union, 9:40 – 10:30 am

A:  Fake News:  What it is and How to Rein it in

Moderator:  Nancy Justis, Freelance Journalist, Justis Creative Communications

Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio program host

Christina Hageman, Digital Marketing Consultant, Internet Education Alliance

Doug Hines, Managing Editor/Production, Waterloo Courier

Christopher Larimer, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science, UNI

In today's highly charged political environment, "Fake News" has become the new terminology in the dissemination of information, particularly via social media, but not restricted to social media. Disseminators of Fake News have become very adept at making it appear true. This panel of working journalists will discuss the challenges of the reader or listener in deciphering what is true and what is fake, how it is the responsibility of the consumer to study and research the facts for themselves, and how editors must diligently work to overcome the untruths. Being a well-informed citizen is a foundation of our democracy.  It also is the responsibility of higher education institutions to instruct their journalism students on how to combat fake news. 

B.  Culturally Competent Communication

Tara Thomas, Director of School & Community Relations, Waterloo Schools

Stephanie Mohorne, Director of Middle School Education, Waterloo Schools

Culturally-competent communication is necessary to engage all community stakeholders. Tara Thomas and Stephanie Mohorne will explain in a one-hour, interactive session how Waterloo Schools applies this strategy to effectively reach its audience—students, staff, families and the community in the 7th largest, and one of the most diverse, school districts in Iowa. Thomas, a former television news anchor and reporter, will give specific examples of how sharing messages with the media and, in turn, the public needs to be a carefully-guided process based on factors like race and socio-economic status. Mohorne, a longtime educational leader and bi-racial daughter of a single mother in Waterloo, will share how an ethical and socially-responsible engagement of your “customers” can mean the difference between showing up and staying home. The following issues with real-world application will be addressed, among others: -Social justice in the media -Parental policing -Social media management. Attendees will hear details about specific outcomes in these three areas and more—including video elements. They will be asked to consider challenges related to cultural competency and how they would respond. Thomas and Mohorne will walk them through practical solutions to complicated situations.

C.  Addressing Wicked Problems in Practical Ways: Empowering Ethical Action in Higher Ed and Beyond

Cara B. Stone, MLS, Instruction Librarian, Iowa State University

Anne Marie Gruber, PhD, Instruction & Liaison Librarian, Liaison and Research Unit, Rod Library, UNI

This discussion-based workshop will engage faculty and students alike in identifying problem areas related to social responsibility and action. Using a “Wicked Problems” framework, the presenters will provide examples of and opportunities for participants to reflect on challenges they observe in their disciplines/professional lives and on their campuses. Wicked Problems are complex and multifaceted, do not have a simple description or solution, and “are different because traditional processes can’t resolve them” (Camillus, 2008). In a higher education context, faculty and students can address these problems but this will require “new ways of learning, new ways of working together, and new definitions and measures of progress and success” (Ramaley, 2014). Introducing the Wicked Problems framework in the classroom setting can encourage complex problem-solving that has implications far beyond academia, for both students and faculty. Participants will leave with an understanding of how to best approach systemic issues and take concrete action in collaboration with key allies.



Lower level Maucker Union, 12:00-12:50 pm

D.  Slippery Slope of Greed: Le-Nature’s Inc. Case Study - Part 1 Fraud Detection

Sponsored by the Institute of Management Accounts - Waterloo-Cedar Falls Chapter

Denise Bouska, CPA, CMA, Tax Supervisor, BerganKDV, Waterloo

Lori Brandt, Accounting Manager, Donaldson Company, Inc., Waterloo

Learning Objective:  IDENTIFY common fraud risk factors present in an actual financial reporting fraud. 

This session is aimed at business professionals and small business entrepreneurs.  From the early 1989 to 2006, Le-Nature’s Inc. grew from a small startup company to the 33rd largest beverage producer in the United States, with annual reported sales approaching $290 million and a workforce of several hundred employees.  In 2006, federal law enforcement authorities placed a final price tag of nearly $700 million on the founder’s long running scam.  We will use this case study to identify common fraud risk factors, warning signs, and stakeholder investigations.

E.   Words in the World: Developing Social Responsibility through Critical Learning Practices across Language Disciplines

Elise DuBord, PhD, Associate Professor of Spanish, Languages & Literatures, UNI

Rachel Morgan, MFA, Instructor of English, Languages & Literatures, UNI

Jeremy Schraffenberger, PhD, Associate Professor of English, Languages & Literatures, UNI

Adrienne Lamberti, PhD, Associate Professor of English, Languages & Literatures, UNI

Caroline Ledeboer, MFA, Instructor of English, Languages & Literatures, UNI

Jennifer Cooley, PhD, Professor of Spanish, Languages & Literatures, UNI

This panel explores ways that language-related disciplines can promote social responsibility in courses that deliberately connect academic content with hands-on professional and/or service experiences. Panelists will discuss the development of socially minded practices through interdisciplinary projects working with English language learners, food insecurity, environmental conservation, theater, and professional editing. We situate this conversation in broader institutional structures that support the integration of civic engagement in the university curriculum. Non-traditional teaching practices in the community and across disciplinary boundaries allow us to explore these in-between spaces where social change that is often constrained within formal institutions is possible (Mitchell, 2008). Following Mitchell (2008), we argue for a critical pedagogical approach that makes center the ethical dimensions of enacting civic engagement. The learning environments we describe provide spaces for multifaceted development of not only professional skills and abilities, but also socially responsible practices. Shields (2017) has argued that Iowa’s universities must produce “civic-minded professionals” able to “work with those who are different from them, communicate effectively, organize resources, [and] think critically about important issues.” Our work directly acts on the development of socially responsible practices as faculty and students work collaboratively with community partners, preparing students to pursue future careers, and just as importantly, to engage actively, civically, and ethically in their communities.

Presenter 1: This speaker will address the development intercultural communicative competency as a civically minded and socially responsible practice that requires listening, taking on multiple perspectives, and making a personal investment in the felicity of communicative events between speakers of different languages, by discussing students’ reflective writings from multiple civic engagement projects.  Presenter 2: This speaker will discuss embedding longer critical service learning that moves from an indirect to direct model that connects the classroom with a community partner. Through the community partnership, students gain research experience, work with problem-solution models, gain speaking experience, and develop a greater understanding of community and civility.  Presenter 3: Focusing on a service-learning collaboration between the students in an Environmental Literature class at UNI and the Black Hawk County Soil and Water Conservation District, this speaker will explore how hands-on publication and editorial experiences allowed for a space to develop a considered ethical orientation to the land and to connect with people who live and work intimately in their environments.  Presenter 4: This speaker will discuss a recent pilot assignment to demonstrate how editing and managing publications called students’ attention to the impact of their decision-making upon others. Specifically, the speaker consistently used this project as an opportunity to highlight community memberships and responsibility beyond the classroom.  What was more largely at stake, for example, when an international student editor wished to correct a U.S. North American student writer’s colloquial English to conventional syntax?  Presenter 5: Work with the August Wilson Festival has been rich in collaboration across disciplinary and community borders, and well-supported by the university. While, originally, its mission was to share the literary richness of Wilson’s plays with local audiences at the university and in the Cedar Valley, the project has allowed me as faculty member an opportunity to align academic interests with personal values, supporting the university’s Community of Practice (Wenger).  Presenter 6: I will explore how institutional models (such as curricular structures paired with co-curricular projects in a public university setting) can support the development of individual civic engagement. Citing examples from projects housed in our department, I will examine the potential for community-based learning to integrate academic, pre-professional, and lifelong learning through critical reflection that leads to ethical growth on an intimate, personal level.   References: Mitchell, T. (2008). “Traditional vs. Critical Service-Learning: Engaging the Literature to Differentiate Two Models,” Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 14(2): 50-65. Shields, E. (2017). What Iowa needs now: Civic-minded professionals. April 28. Des Moines Register. Retrieved from: Wenger, E. and Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Wenger-Trayner. Retrieved from:

F(1).  Ethics: A Socio-Politico-Ideological Wishful Principle or Reality in “Social Responsibility?”

Ahmadu A. Baba-Singhri, PhD, Professor, Sociology & Criminal Justice, Grand View University

Ethics, defined by the Webster-Miriam Dictionary as (1) “a discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation”; (2) “the principles of conduct governing an individual or group”, and seemingly a needed protective principle in organizational bureaucracy, appears to not only be a complex and challenging phenomenon, but also a socio-politico-ideological wishful principle, in [Human] organizational behavior, especially, when it comes to its application. The complexity appears more apparent not only in definitions, but also in an effort to bridge the gap between Immanuel Kant’s principle of “Categorical Imperative” and Hobbes’ principle of Self-Interest, coupled with my untested theory of Human Agency (a proposition designed to explore the role of the actor as a “mover and shaker” with potential personal or group-affiliated interest in the pre-disposition of her/his duty in relation to her/his given status as authority-power in an organization. In other words, are ethics and morality the same thing or is there a third variable—law—that can be interjected into? Take for instance, in his work, entitled “Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice”, Albanese (2008), citing incident whereby students would buy laptops “to write their term papers and then returned the laptops”, writes, “This behavior is clearly not illegal, but it is clearly unethical” (p. 4). Do those students’ behaviors constitute ethical or moral or legal violation? In his scientific principle, Socrates, according to Ellwood (1944), observed that “We must know the meaning of the terms we use before we can convey truth from one mind to another”; that definition should be “the first step in science and the mark of its completion” (p. 15). Hall (2000) defines morality as “the entire system of laws, principles, rules, and values by which we regulate our individual and social lives and conduct”; while defining ethics as “conditions and criteria of moral reasonableness….in conduct and attitudes that distinguishes the moral person…from the non-moral or immoral person’ (p. 8); law as “body of statutes or rules found in various codes of civil (manmade) law….designed to regulate commerce and transfer of property, to protect civil rights and to promote public safety” (p. 9). This paper, as an exploratory subject matter, is designed to understand and appreciate ethics and its complexity in an increasingly complex society and socio-political individual in relation to “social responsibility”, especially, in academic institutions where teachers/professors, staff, and students have varying expectations of one another in the execution of their duties within the context of the institutional culture. In other words, if the human individual is a socio-political animal as described by social scientists, operating in the context of Human Agency within an organizational behavior, at the same time is defined by a principle of Self-Interest, as observed by Hobbes (Ellwood, 1944), how does he/she, in the discharge of her/his social obligation or responsibility, is he/she able to effectively apply Kant’s principle of Categorical Imperative? Thus, the question, Ethics: Is it a Politico-Ideological Wishful Principle or Reality in Social Responsibility?

F(2).  Trump, the media, and the American Dream: The ethical implications of societal myths

Fernando I. Quinones Valdivia, Graduate Student, Communication Studies, UNI

When it comes to society’s myths, whether it is the American Dream, Liberalism, or Universal Human Rights, the role of the critic and the ethical implications for such academic are not clear. The critic might evaluate those myths on the basis of their “truthfulness,” but the real challenge is to develop a comprehensive ethical guide based on diversity, social responsibility, and the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Given the accelerating pace of media technologies, the creation, critique, and distribution of ethical myths is more prescient than ever. After having done a rhetorical analysis of Trump’s Presidential Announcement, I did an analysis of the ethical implications a critic must take into account when confronting societal myths such as the American Dream. Criticizing the American Dream on the basis of its “truthfulness” might lead to more suffering by either creating a nihilist vacuum and/or giving rise to a “worse” societal myth. The critic must work within current societal myth structures to “expand” rather than “constrict” the benefits of existing myths to the greatest number of people. This analysis is the first step towards a more comprehensive understanding of society’s values based on utilitarianism rather than existing societal myths.



Lower level Maucker Union, 2:00-2:50 pm

G.  Slippery Slope of Greed: Le-Nature’s Inc. Case Study - Part 2 Fraud Prevention

Sponsored by the Institute of Management Accounts - Waterloo-Cedar Falls Chapter

Denise Bouska, CPA, CMA, Tax Supervisor, BerganKDV, Waterloo

Lori Brandt, Accounting Manager, Donaldson Company, Inc., Waterloo

Learning Objectives:  DETERMINE the five components of internal control and how they relate to the case.  RECOGNIZE deficiencies in an organization’s internal controls and governance.

This session is aimed at business professionals and small business entrepreneurs. From the early 1989 to 2006, Le-Nature’s Inc. grew from a small startup company to the 33rd largest beverage producer in the United States, with annual reported sales approaching $290 million and a workforce of several hundred employees. In 2006, federal law enforcement authorities placed a final price tag of nearly $700 million on the founder’s long running scam. We will use this case study to determine how the five components of internal control may prevent fraud and recognize deficiencies in a company’s internal controls and governance.

H. University of Northern Iowa Youth Arts Summit: Mentoring and Empowering Youth Voice Through the Arts

Angela Waseskuk, MFA, Instructor, Art Education, UNI

Alyssa Bruecken, Director, Waterloo Writing Project

Heidi Fuchtman, Director, Youth Art Team

Shuaib Meacham, PhD, Co-Director, Arts to End Violence, Associate Professor, Literacy Education, UNI

Emmett Phillips, Program Coordinator, Children and Family Urban Movement, Des Moines

Courtney Clausen, EdD, Instructor, Curriculum and Instruction, UNI

Wendy Miller, PhD, Assistant Professor, Art Education, UNI

In the face of drastic cuts to both the arts and the humanities at the national and state levels, it is important to empower and give voice to young artists and creatives striving to impact society and their communities through their creative writing, visual images, music, and dance. Educational scholars such as Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath call for empowering youth through facilitating change and giving voice to children and young adults in the face of adversity. This panel discussion speaks directly to ethical issues in advising and mentoring students in citizenship and community life, as well as, social responsibility in one’s community. It is imperative to note that knowledge is not neutral and when guiding students in controversial or difficult discussions it is necessary that leaders pose questions that build upon young adults’ prior knowledge and experiences towards the joint construction of knowledge. This group of educational scholars and youth arts program directors will discuss their experiences in mentoring young adults during a day-long youth art summit held at the University of Northern Iowa in the summer of 2017. Local youth arts program directors including Alyssa Bruecken of the Waterloo Writing Project, Heidi Fuchtman of Youth Art Team, Dr. Shuaib Meacham of Arts to End Violence, and program coordinator Emmett Phillips of Children and Family Urban Movement of Des Moines, join UNI faculty and instructors Dr. Wendy Miller, Angela Waseskuk, and Dr. Courtney Clausen in discussing their experiences in mentoring a group of 80 youth from both the Cedar Valley and Des Moines area. The conversation will include the leaders’ experiences in guiding youth in critical thinking and ethical leadership in advocating for the arts at local, state, and federal levels. The panel participants will also discuss the interactive creative workshops which created bridges between local ecology, technology, public art, printmaking, and fashion and the students’ prior experiences. These workshops served as venues to guide student learning through creative expression by mentoring students and giving them a voice in which to become active and ethical citizens grounded in social responsibility.

I(1).  The Responsibility to Heal: Dr. Richard Clarke Cabot and the Creation of Medical Social Work in the United States

Laura Praglin, PhD, Associate Professor and MSW Program Director, Social Work, UNI

How can a society best care for its sick and indigent clients?  Dr. Richard Clarke Cabot (1868-1939), a physician and social ethicist, formulated an efficient and socially just solution to this question by creating the field of medical social work. This model ensured competent and humane patient care through socially responsible policy and administrative practices. Cabot asserted that effective medical practice must consider adverse environmental conditions that contributed to illness. Yet most physicians lacked the training to recognize, let alone attend to, these social aspects of medicine.  As an outpatient doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, Cabot treated immigrants and other urban poor with tuberculosis, venereal disease, and other conditions exacerbated by poverty, ignorance, or a lack of safety and health standards. Cabot discerned that some patients remained ill because of unaddressed psychosocial factors, and were often unable to understand or afford the treatments prescribed. With Ida Cannon (1877-1960), a social worker and nurse, Cabot established the first hospital-based social service department in the U.S. Social workers acted as advocates in the hospital, and provided advice and resources related to work, housing, education, or family life. Despite opposition from many administrators, nurses and doctors, they created this new field of hospital social service through political savvy, diplomacy, and an advisory committee comprised of influential public figures. They educated health care professionals about practicing medicine in its social context, and fostered teamwork in patient care. Their administrative innovations were soon borrowed by other institutions, ensuring that social service became an essential part of every hospital in the U.S. and abroad.  Cabot came from a background of great wealth and privilege. Yet his Progressive spirit of reform, alongside deeply-held religious and philosophical convictions, resulted in a keen sense of ethical responsibility towards the nation’s poorest, sickest, and most vulnerable. This resulted in his creation of a medical social work model that embraced systemic and far-reaching reforms, in its attempt to address complex social barriers that prevented healing.  Cabot's model provides inspiration and guidance as we attempt to meet the needs of indigent clients in our own time.

I(2).   Faculty & Community Partners Co-Creating Service-Learning

Julianne Gassman, Associate Professor, KAHHS, & Director of Undergraduate Studies, UNI

Emily Shields, Executive Director, Campus Compact

Lauren Finke, Executive Director, Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley

Community engagement and service-learning are critical to the success of higher education (Fitzgerald, Bruns, Sonka, Furco & Swanson, 2012). Service-learning projects should offer an intellectually rich educational experience for students and simultaneously address a community need. Using the Engaged Faculty Institute (EFI) Curriculum, a Service-Learning Institute (SLI) was implemented, giving intentional focus and attention to the collaboration and partnership between the faculty and the community partner. The SLI incorporated a day for the faculty member and the community partner to co-create the service-learning project. This co-creating of the service-learning project is a key element in redistributing power between community and institutional agents, inviting the community partner, not the faculty member, to identify the community needs. Results from pre-and post-surveys, taken by both faculty and community partners will be discussed, focusing on how partnerships were formed and developed, outlining the benefits and pitfalls of co-creating service-learning projects. The results of this case study are encouraging. The pre-post survey data suggests there was an increase in both faculty’s beliefs and skills and their practices. In particular their confidence in the partnerships formed seems high. This is supported by comments from both faculty and community partners after the SLI and after the service-learning project was implemented. The observations also indicate something unique happened in the formation of the partnership during the SLI. One element of the SLI that may explain its success, is the makeup of the team of facilitators. The main organizer of the SLI was a faculty member that had been serving as a provost fellow for community engagement at the institution. That faculty member developed a close relationship with the state Campus Compact executive director through the institution’s membership with Campus Compact. At the start of planning the SLI, the faculty member reached out to the state director, who knew of the EFI, which provided a solid curriculum for the institute. In addition, the institution had a ten-year history and partnership with its local volunteer center. At the very start of planning the SLI, the faculty member also called the executive director of the volunteer center to ask for her participation in planning the SLI. The partnership between Campus Compact, the university and the volunteer center provided the needed expertise to facilitate a powerful experience for faculty and community members. This three-pronged partnership may serve as an ethically sound model of designing service-learning opportunities with outcomes that serve students, faculty and community partners equally.