The Rock Ethics Institute

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This is The Rock

Our Mission

Meet the Challenge. Stand Up. Make a Difference.

Mission Statement header

The mission of the Rock Ethics Institute is to promote ethical literacy and catalyze ethical leadership throughout the Penn State community and to foster interdisciplinary ethics research designed to address significant social issues and pressing world problems. 

Our aspiration is that students, faculty, and community members—Meet the challenge. Stand up.  Make a difference.

We are an Institute “without walls:”

    • We serve the entire Pennsylvania State University and collaborate with all Colleges and academic units to integrate ethics throughout the Penn State curriculum and to provide resources that support ethically responsible research in all disciplines;
    • The Institute supports and promotes a deeply interdisciplinary approach to ethics research. Our goal is to embed ethical analyses into interdisciplinary research topics paying special attention to achieving this aim through embedded ethics research in science and engineering;
    • Underscoring the importance of exchanges between the University and broader communities, we work to raise awareness of the ethical dimensions of pressing social problems within the larger public, as well as supporting policy-makers and other stakeholders by providing resources for ethically informed responses to pressing world problems.

Guiding the work of the Rock Ethics Institute is our commitment to ethical literacy, which we define as:

    • the ability to identify ethical problems and to recognize the complex issues that they raise; and
    • the ability to evaluate ethical problems from multiple perspectives and to assess disagreements about, and proposed responses to, these problems.

The Rock Ethics Institute aims to help people better understand the different cultural contexts of ethical problems, disagreements, and solutions. We believe that in today’s world, ethical literacy is essential to being active, informed citizens, and to living vibrant professional and personal lives.

Education, research, and outreach graphic

Through education, research, and outreach, we catalyze ethically informed scholarship, promote ethical literacy, and encourage ethical decision-making at Penn State and beyond.

    • Education: We encourage the ongoing development of curricular units and innovative courses on theoretical and practical issues in ethics for use by Penn State faculty and the broader community. Our events and workshops support ethically informed research across the disciplines and aim to ensure that every student inherits a legacy of ethical integrity and ethical leadership as part of their Penn State education.
    • Research: By embedding ethics into multiple research domains we positively impact scholarship and provide ethically informed decision support resources to help solve complex social problems. Further, by introducing ethical literacy into research and policy, we strive to foreground ethics in professional and public dialogue.
    • Outreach: We support local, national, and international projects that promote general ethical awareness by working with community and public leaders through a variety of outreach activities. We also highlight examples of individuals who have demonstrated courage, fortitude, and ethical leadership, and provide educational resources to increase ethical literacy, both locally and globally.