Who We Are

The Center for Ethics helps students, professionals, and the public confront and understand ethical issues in health, technology, the arts, the environment, and the life sciences. We teach, publish, and offer programming that includes public engagement as part of our commitment to respond to issues and concerns important not just to the academic community but to the Atlanta community and beyond.

Our Mission and Vision about Who We Are

Continuity and New Directions

Health Care Ethics have been and remain a cornerstone of the Center, including an M.A. Program in Bioethics, the Healthcare Ethics Consortium, and a rich series of instructional programs for students in Emory's School of Medicine. The Center also offers and is expanding programming in Ethics and the Arts, not only looking at ethical questions through the arts, but also exploring ethical questions facing the arts. With a transition in leadership, the Center will add to these vital initiatives an intensified focus on moral excellences and the good life, including questions of character, virtue and vice, purpose and well-being.

Most if not all of us pursue happiness, or better still, flourishing, a life rich in meaning and praiseworthy in character, what also could be called a good life. But most if not all of us wonder from time to time what such a life involves. The media provides many images of successful people, but we sense if not know to ask: at what cost? And: but are they truly happy? These are core questions that everyone considers.

Multiple traditions suggest that one key to the good life is a set of virtues or moral excellences such as generosity, compassion, and courage. We refer to "excellences" because they are worthy aspirations, and because their enactment is usually enriching and fulfilling rather than a matter of self-sacrifice. Of course, these excellences are shadowed by shortcomings or vices such as greed, indifference, and cowardliness, and any rich account of human flourishing considers our failings as well as our aspirations.

Can one flourish under conditions of injustice? This question is also integral to any rich account of human well-being. No one flourishes alone and no one flourishes on their own. We are dependent, social creatures, and how we live out that condition impacts our lives in profound ways. Note also that justice has been regarded as a moral excellence in its own right, such that acting justly, like acting generously might be an essential component of human flourishing. One isn't therefore forced to choose between a just life and one that flourishes. Genuine moral excellence weaves the two into one cloth.

For more information on Center programs that address flourishing conscientiously, please visit Ethics and Servant Leadership, The Emory Purpose Project, Food Studies and Ethics, and Healthcare Ethics Leadership Academy.

students discussing ethics