Teaching Moral Courage, Civic Responsibility

Educators, ethics scholars and students will explore how to integrate lessons about moral courage and civic responsibility into middle school, high school and college curricula Sept. 19-21


DURHAM, N.C. -- Educators, ethics scholars and students from across the country will explore how to integrate lessons about moral courage and civic responsibility into middle school, high school and college curricula at a Sept. 19-21 conference at the Durham Civic Center.

The National Conference on Moral Education in a Diverse Society will include more than 25 panels and interactive workshops and two keynote speakers: civil rights activist the Rev. Otis Moss Jr. and philanthropy advocate Claire Gaudiani.

"This conference is unique because it closes the gap between middle and high school teachers and university faculty," said Elizabeth Kiss, director of Duke University's Kenan Institute for Ethics. "This year we will tackle one of the most crucial questions for any educator -- 'How can we inspire young people to care about their communities, develop thoughtful moral convictions and have the courage to act on them?'"

Examples to be showcased include: a project in Asheville, N.C., where students explore moral courage through interviews with local government officials; and a partnership between a middle school and university in Indiana that teaches students about civic responsibility and channeling creativity as they clean up graffiti and meet with businesspeople, community leaders and a former graffiti artist.

The biennial conference is sponsored by the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Cumberland County (N.C.) Schools, the North Carolina Center for Character Education, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, Shaw University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to the panels and workshops, the 2003 recipient of the William C. Friday Award in Moral Leadership will be presented at the conference, which is open to the public.

Moss, pastor of the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, will deliver the conference's opening address on Sept. 19. Named one of "America's 15 Most Influential Black Preachers" by Ebony magazine, Moss has created innovative programs addressing poverty, health care, employment and education, including a partnership between his church and the University Hospital Health Systems of Cleveland.

Gaudiani, a senior research scholar at Yale Law School and commentator on the role of colleges in civil society, will deliver the Sept. 20 address. During her tenure as president of Connecticut College from 1988 to 2001, the New London, Conn., college served as an instrument of civic engagement, economic development and social justice in its hometown. Her latest book, "The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism," is slated for publication this month.

Other featured conference speakers include: Anne Colby, senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, co-director of the Political Engagement Project and co-author of "Educating Citizens"; and James Joseph, former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, executive director of the U.S.-Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke University and University of Cape Town, and author of "Remaking America."

For more information about the conference, a program of events and registration instructions, visit the Kenan Institute for Ethics Web site, send e-mail or call (919) 361-2294.