Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D., Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics, Director of the Center for Ethics Education and Professor of Psychology, delivered the keynote address at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Diploma Ceremony on May 18, 2019.
Dr. Fisher reminded graduates that their education at Fordham was not limited to their specific field. Whether in the Cybersecurity or English department, she pointed out that faculty members nurture their students’ “moral imagination – the ability to combine knowledge and empathy to envision new and creative ways to address complex ethical issues.” With no shortage of pressing ethical issues to challenge graduates’ moral imagination, she reminded students they have been bestowed with a greater responsibility to “live a life beyond oneself.”
Speaking to graduates with careers in academia, research, or public service ahead of them, Dr. Fisher shared anecdotes from her own life and how her sense of self-reflection and morality evolved. She spoke of idealizing the objective scientific method as a young developmental psychologist, but began to question her approach after she became a parent. Did the parents of the children she was studying understand the risks and benefit of these scientific investigations? What was their experience like? With these questions in mind, Dr. Fisher explained how she shifted towards the study of research ethics. Even though she is now leading voice in the field of research ethics, she spoke about her continuous reflection on social inequities and her efforts to ensure that the voice of vulnerable populations reach federal regulators and policy makers.
Regardless of their future career paths, Dr. Fisher encouraged graduates to conceive of their future endeavors as “moral activities that require humility and openness to others” if they are to “contribute to the evolution of a just world.” Dr. Fisher ended her address assured of Fordham students’ dedication to a more just world. She concluded, “As you enter this exciting new phase of your life, I am confident that your future work will be informed by a moral community composed of all members of society and that you will continue to apply your moral imagination to achieve social and environmental justice in these challenging times. I look forward to that future.”