You are never too young to learn about ethical decision making. On March 7, Mercyhurst hosted the seventh Annual Rotary of Erie’s Ethics Symposium. Richard McCarty, Ph.D., associate professor of Religious Studies managed the symposium for Mercyhurst for the fifth year in a row.
“It was the largest year yet. Over 250 high school juniors from, I believe, all the area high schools. They were accompanied by teachers and counselors, so we had 278 total, including teachers. The students are not only learning how to think ethically but the teachers are also receiving ACT 48 training on ethics so it’s continuing education for them,” McCarty said.
The Rotary teaches students their four way test which asks four questions to help aid the individual in making an ethical decision. The first question is “Is it the truth?” The second question asks “Is it fair to all concerned?” Thirdly, the test asks “Will it build goodwill and better friendships?” Lastly, individuals should consider “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
“I am proud that Mercyhurst University cares enough about ethics to donate space and energy to this program for high school students,” McCarty said.
The day long symposium begins with an introduction to ethical thinking and the Rotary four way test. Students then view a play where this year Gannon University students portrayed scenarios typical of high school situations. Breaking into smaller classroom groups, the students have the opportunity to discuss the situations in greater depth. The symposium closes with all participants taking part in an open microphone debate.
“A lot of students who take my ethics class, they’re college students and have never been exposed to ethical reasoning,” McCarty said.
McCarty spoke of there being no right or wrong in ethical reasoning. It does not teach the individual what to think, but rather how to critically think and assess situations.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if students, because of the ethics symposium, choose to come to Mercyhurst University,” McCarty said.
The high school juniors are in the middle of planning for post-graduation, including exploring colleges to apply to. In the ethics symposium, they are given insight and access to Mercyhurst University.
“They get to come to the university, to be on campus. They eat in our Commons. They are exposed to the faculty. The experience you get here isn’t the experience you get at any other university” said McCarty. “That’s something to be proud of. When you’re here you get a different level of education.”