← Return to search results

From the Director



Hello, and welcome.

The Prindle Institute for Ethics equips people to deepen their understanding of different moral perspectives and to think critically about the kinds of inescapable ethical issues that we all will face. These issues range from the small and personal to the large and public. Ethics is a field of study that attempts to understand rightness and wrongness, goodness and badness, and how these interact with our obligations to ourselves and to others. Because ethics is about these fundamental matters, its questions arise in almost every discipline and every walk of life. There are ethical questions about education, about politics, about history, about science, about engineering, about business, about the environment, etc. For this reason, the Prindle Institute supports a broad variety of projects and initiatives in a wide variety of fields.

Since our founding in 2008, DePauw students have been the focal point of our mission as we promote the study of ethics across all disciplines and across all aspects of life. Though undergraduate students are at the core of our work, our audience also extends beyond our teaching mission. We also foster ethics education via our work with our local and regional communities, with university faculty and staff (at DePauw and beyond), with K-12 educators, and with a diverse variety of professionals in our executive education program. The Institute has a growing national footprint as a respected clearinghouse for high-quality ethics education resources for many of the audiences above, and as the institutional home and headquarters of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE)—the world’s largest professional ethics organization. Through these initiatives we aim to create engaged citizens who can identify and think through the inescapable ethical issues that confront us all.

We all believe, at some level, that ethics is important. There’s pretty broad agreement that we should, for instance, treat others fairly, justify our decisions, and act with integrity. But not everyone agrees about what ethics education should look like. Some think of it as developing a person’s character. Others see it as inculcating in students particular values. Still others think that ethics education means teaching students the correct answers to ethical questions.

At the Prindle Institute, we don’t think about ethics education in any of those ways. In a pluralistic democracy like ours, these things are contested, after all. Maybe not in the easy cases… Is it okay to steal a friend’s iPhone? Pretty much everyone agrees the answer is no. But those are not the cases where we need to think deeply about ethics. Is it okay to have an abortion? That’s an important question to think about, but its answer is contested.

But wait, you might be thinking, what value is there in ethics education if it doesn’t give people the correct answers to ethical questions? The short answer is that we can make progress towards answering a question even if we don’t arrive for certain at the correct answer. We can rule out bad answers and we can come to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of those answers that remain.

Ethics education, understood in this way, cultivates absolutely essential skills. It helps people to better make decisions, to communicate those decisions, to build consensus with others, and to understand opposing viewpoints. These are in-demand skills and essential for living together with others. It’s also no secret that we are trending as a nation towards a situation where many are unable to see others’ perspectives or engage productively with those who disagree with them about deeply important matters. Helping people to do this better lies the center of our work at the Prindle Institute. Against our current backdrop, such work is critically important. I hope you’ll join our community and be a part of our work.






Jeffrey Dunn, Ph.D.
Phyllis Nicholas Director
The Prindle Institute for Ethics
DePauw University



Visit Us.


2961 W County Road 225 S
Greencastle, IN 46135



Monday - Friday: 8:00AM - 5:00PM
Saturday-Sunday: closed