Why we teach ethical behavior and respect for diversity: A core mission of the Psychology Department is to promote academic excellence and the pursuit of scientific understanding via education, research and clinical practice. The skills that we use in the pursuit of scientific inquiry reflect the pathway toward understanding ethical behavior and ultimately respecting diversity.
Respect for diversity seems like a simple idea. Living it and teaching it has proved to be a far greater challenge. Each of us defines diversity differently, and although there are some accepted definitions of diversity by various academics, the variability from which we all approach the conversation has a lot to do with who we are and where we came from.
As scientists, we embrace different viewpoints and encourage curiosity. Being a good listener is an important part of being a critical thinker. Our undergraduate students bring a wealth of knowledge and diverse perspectives to our department. We seek to learn as much from them as we hope to teach them. Listening to our students via collaborative partnerships is fundamental.
Why we teach and how we teach ethical behavior and respect for diversity is reflected not only in our pedagogical activities but also in the way we as faculty behave. We strive to model and practice ethical and respectful behavior with our students, colleagues and community partners.
How we teach ethical behavior and respect for diversity: Real-life experiences, experiential classroom activities and research projects are only some of the methods we use to teach ethical behavior and respect for diversity.
Postgraduate education and employment require that students have a foundation in understanding the core ethical principles of integrity, justice, respect for others, beneficence/non-maleficence, fidelity and responsibility, which guide us as psychologists. Numerous undergraduate courses including Critical Thinking in Psychology and Conducting Psychological Research focus on these ethical principles as they relate to conducting research, while the courses Clinical Psychology and Psychopathology focus on these ethical principles as they relate to clinical work.
We continue to augment our course offerings to be more diverse and inclusive. I plan to teach an undergraduate course in fall 2021 focused on understanding the psychology of oppression, power and privilege. The objective of this course is to expand students' understanding of different identities as they relate to various oppressions such as racism, classism, sexism and religious oppression. I also hope to empower students to challenge their own biases and fight social injustices. By augmenting critical thinking and problem-solving skills, students will be ready to build a more interdependent world as ethical and respectful individuals.
Compassion, empathy and empowerment are the tools we use as psychologists to educate our students. Challenging unethical and disrespectful behavior is not easy, yet it is critical to creating a more inclusive and just educational environment. Our aspiration is that our students leave our Psychology Department with the knowledge and conviction required to become ethical and respectful leaders in their future careers.