Fordham University Ethics & Society Master’s Student Working to Eradicate Poverty

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On October 17th, 2017, Omar Lebron, a graduate student of Fordham University’s Master of Arts in Ethics and Society program, moderated the event “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies” at the United Nations in New York to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Please read Omar’s thoughts below and watch the video from the event..

STUDENT VOICES

By Omar Lebron

“You always have the poor with you…” (Mark 14:7), prophetic biblical words presented to us by Jesus Christ, exposing humanity’s inability to address those that live outside the reach of protection by state and government conditions. In ATD (All Together in Dignity) Fourth World Movement, extreme poverty is the focus as its base feature in a primary methodology in the developmental policy approach, addressing forms of poverty in collaboration with the United Nations. These forms represent the underlying assumptions associated by the behaviors of those who live in extreme poverty. Persons who live in destitute conditions due in large part of the status of poverty, accumulate behaviors relating to humiliation and exclusion. The NGO ATD Fourth World addresses these behaviors by focusing and introducing the removal of humiliation and exclusion to those of dignity and inclusion.

Understanding that the economic approach is not the only way extreme poverty paralyzes individual and social growth, ATD’s founder Father Joseph Wresinski brought to the public square an awareness on extreme poverty as a violation of a person’s human rights stating that, “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated.  To come together to ensure that these rights are respected is our solemn duty.”  The depths of information within the statement preludes the tools and perspectives on achieving a new normality in terms of how poverty affects short and long term on individuals and societies.  Of remarkable notice is the dearth of common thought where poverty is highlighted by a monetary achievement.  Thirty years ago on October 17th, 1987, Father Wresinski formed a “Call to Action” on the steps of a park outside of Paris, France where 100,000 people stood in solidarity to those victims living in the harshest of conditions per each society.  Completely void is a financial solution from the crippling, disabling realities of living in extreme poverty.  Five years after that “Call to Action,” the United Nations adopted the “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.”  On October 17th of each year, there is a commemoration to this commitment described in the words of Father Wresinski at the United Nations known as the “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.”

Dealing with exclusion and humiliation is ATD Fourth World’s mission and overreaching ambition.  Its goals begin with both these forms associated with persons living in extreme poverty, and acknowledges that through commitment and consistency a new way of living becomes achievable. Within its name as an organization are its organizational leadership components using artifacts, espoused values and underlying assumptions, all necessary to address the sociological cultural habitat transcendent throughout all who live in extreme poverty, regardless of location, state or government.
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What Does Silence Say?

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STUDENT VOICES | CHYNN PRIZE SECOND-PLACE WINNER

By Amy Endres

There had never once been a public opinion poll done in El Salvador until Ignacio Martín-Baró, a Jesuit, set out as the only doctoral-level psychologist in the country to measure the opinion of the people in the 1980s.[1]  He knew this would be difficult.  He had studied at the University of Chicago, and he was certain that he would need to practice very differently than how he had been trained.  But he had still been unprepared for just how difficult it would be.

Much of Martín-Baró’s early conclusions were made on the fact that very few people would speak to him.  Only 40% percent of the rich felt safe enough to speak their opinion.  And the poor? Less than 20% of the poor would do the speak to him.[2]  Less than 20% would speak to him about their lives, what they thought of the government, or anything that could get back to someone who could hurt them.

In his case, silence stood for more than an inconvenience to answer a pollster.  It stood for more than a passive distrust of someone collecting data.  In his case, silence told a story of gripping fear, of generations of pain, of mothers mourning children slain by an oppressive and violent government.

Silence says a lot, and it’s important that researchers take that silence into account.

I do not present my essay from El Salvador, though, much less an El Salvador in the throes of civil war like my introduction remembers.  Instead, I present my essay from the United States.  Martín-Baró was attuned to the differences between the countries.  He remarked to an American colleague once that, “In your country, it’s publish or perish. In mine, it’s publish and perish.”[3]  Indeed, Martín-Baró would later be killed, one of eight martyrs, in November of 1989.

I do not propose that he was mistaken.  He was an American-trained researcher after all; he would know the dynamics between the countries.  There is far more protection in the United States, particularly for the researchers today, than there was in Martín-Baró’s time and region.  However, I do want to turn my gaze to those who cannot freely speak their mind in the United States, and posit that researchers can (and, I argue, should) take on their behalf, if they are to act in the heroic way that Martín-Baró did.

What does silence say in the United States?

Continue reading “What Does Silence Say?”

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: September 22, 2017

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Politics

Donald Trump’s Lies and Obstruction Will End His Presidency, Ex-Ethics Chief Says
“A former White House ethics chief says that Donald Trump would likely be impeached if it is proven he sought to obstruct justice by firing ex-FBI Director James Comey in hopes of ending his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.”

Public servants hiring spouses, mothers, brothers, lovers: Is it ethical?
“Mississippi’s public servants frequently seek advice from the state Ethics Commission.”

Illegal Strikes and Political Obligation – What Reasons Do We Have To Obey The Law?
“I do not intend to address the moral and economic considerations involved in the question of the amount that a fair society should pay to its public sector workers. Rather, I shall be interested in the nature of the reasons that we may have to obey laws we disagree with, and the implications that our answer to this question may have for whether we should support illegal strikes of this sort.”

To Wipe Out Corruption, Look to Philadelphia
“The city went almost a decade without a single corruption scandal. What’s its secret?”

Bioethics/Medical Ethics and Research Ethics

Take stock of research ethics in human genome editing
“Progress in the use of CRISPR–Cas9 for human germline editing highlights some pressing ethical considerations for research on embryos.”

An Experiment Gives Cash Aid To The Poor. Is That Ethical?
“Is it moral for experimenters to bestow a benefit on one group of people and not another? And what are the risks of unintended negative consequences — creating lasting income inequalities between villages, for instance, or even fueling tensions between the residents?”

Artificial Human Embryos Are Coming, and No One Knows How to Handle Them
“Stem cells can be coaxed to self-assemble into structures resembling human embryos.”

Bioethics expert says ‘de-valuing’ human beings is 21st century malady
“Dr. John Haas, President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, says that beneath specific conundrums that arise in the field of bioethics these days lies a deeper challenge that the Catholic Church is uniquely equipped to address: A ‘de-valuing’ of human beings, which turns the weak and vulnerable into commodities to be exploited by the wealthy and powerful.”

How Much is Your Health Worth to You?
“Exorbitant drug pricing and bad experimental medicine result from putting health care up for sale.”

Business Ethics

We Shouldn’t Always Need a “Business Case” to Do the Right Thing
Corporations should continue to increase and advocate for ethical initiatives. However, the reasoning for supporting these projects should not focus solely on business benefits.

How Much Do A Company’s Ethics Matter In The Modern Professional Climate?
“A company’s ethics and corporate social responsibility matter more today than they did a few decades ago. Workers place a higher emphasis on the values of their employers, and have access to more information than ever before. If you want your company to remain competitive in the hunt for the best candidates in your field, spend some time defining, perfecting, and promoting your company’s ethical behavior.”

Business ethics: moving beyond just compliance
“Financial professionals have become used to compliance requirements placed upon them by regulators including aspects such as treating customers fairly, anti-money laundering, data protection and anti-bribery policies, to name a few. Professional bodies also have member codes of conduct. However, following historical financial scandals, trust in the financial profession remains low.”

The ethics of advertising hate speech
“ASU marketing professor shares insights on Facebook, Google advertising practices.”

Technology and Ethics

AI Research Is In Desperate Need Of An Ethical Watchdog
An updated set of guidelines and regulations is needed to keep pace with the advancement of artificial intelligence and prevent good-intentioned researchers from causing more social ills than they fix.

What Germany’s Document on Autonomous Driving Says about the Ethics of Automotive Tech
“A new document put together by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure aims to preemptively address many of the practical and ethical concerns that autonomous driving will present.”

The Analytics Challenge: Timing, Talent, Value and Ethics
“Healthcare analytics is evolving to a greater focus on analyzing data using prescriptive analytics and providing proactive solutions.”

What Happens When Lyft Redesigns A Street
“Ride sharing is here to stay, and autonomous vehicles are imminent. But the implications for cities are less than clear… How should our aging infrastructure adapt to these changes–and who should be shaping (and funding) it?”

Educational/Academic Ethics

Academic Ethics: Is ‘Diversity’ the Best Reason for Affirmative Action?
“Does racial and ethnic diversity really enhance the educational experience?”

The ethics of free speech in the Trump era
“Universities, as influential institutions, should be allowed to make a moral distinction as to when free speech devolves into hate speech and when pro-Trump political stances may bear negative consequences in the lives of their campus community members.”

Miscellaneous Ethics and Society

Yes, Ethics Still Matter in an Emergency
“Storm victims aren’t breaking the law by “looting” needed food. But they should try to pay later.”

Why museums need their own ethics departments
“While museums may have codes of ethics that aim (with varying degrees of success) to regulate professional conduct, they lack internal institutional support for sustained research into these pressing and fundamental issues. Adopting the ethics of art as a core area of research should be embraced as part of the museum mission.”

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: August 18, 2017

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Politics

Neil Gorsuch Speech at Trump Hotel Raises Ethical Questions
“Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court appointee, is scheduled to address a conservative group at the Trump International Hotel in Washington next month, less than two weeks before the court is set to hear arguments on Mr. Trump’s travel ban.”

Trump’s Washington DC hotel turns $2m profit amid ethics concerns
“Donald Trump’s company is said to have taken home nearly $2m in profits this year at its extravagant hotel in Washington, DC – amid ethics concerns stemming from the President’s refusal to fully divest from his businesses while he is in office.”

3 representatives want to officially censure Trump after Charlottesville
“In response to Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, three Democrats want to censure the president.”

Does Trump’s Slippery Slope Argument About Confederate Statues Have Merit?
“NPR’s Robert Siegal talks with Ilya Somin, a professor of George Mason University, about President Trump’s warning that pulling down Confederate statues may lead to a slippery slope in which monuments to the Founding Fathers are torn down.”

Bioethics/Medical Ethics and Research Ethics

Vaccination: Costly clash between autonomy, public health
Bioethical principles in conflict with medical exemptions to vaccinations

CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Embryo Research
“Although scientists in China and the United Kingdom have already used gene editing on human embryos, the announcement that the research is now being done in the United States makes a U.S. policy response all the more urgent.”

Exclusive: Inside The Lab Where Scientists Are Editing DNA In Human Embryos
“[Critics] fear editing DNA in human embryos is unsafe, unnecessary and could open the door to “designer babies” and possibly someday to genetically enhanced people who are considered superior by society.”

The Ethics Issue Blocking Organ Transplant Research
“The ethics of so-called donor-intervention research are incredibly fraught. How do you get informed consent and from whom? The dead donor? The live recipient—or possibly dozens of live recipients getting tissues or organs from a single donor, fanned out across the country at different hospitals each with their own ethics review boards? All this would unfold against intense time pressure. Every minute of delay is a minute in which the organ is deteriorating.”

NSF reiterates policy on teaching good research habits despite its limitations
“The National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Virginia, has decided to double down on its implementation of a congressionally mandated policy aimed at reducing research misconduct among NSF-funded scientists, despite a new report that notes problems with the agency’s approach.”

What do revised U.S. rules mean for human research?
“Following a contentious 5½-year process, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) released a revised “Common Rule,” which governs federally funded research involving human subjects (1). The updated rule includes a number of welcome changes for U.S. institutions and researchers, and their scientific collaborators abroad.”

Technology and Ethics

The Ethics of Doxing Nazis on Social Media
“The important question is: does any of this help?”

The importance of building ethics into artificial intelligence
“Understand ethical AI and its role in the future of work, recruit talent that understands AI – and its power to address workplace challenges, develop AI that runs on data reflecting the diversity of its users…”

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
“Establish an ethics committee, pursue innovation safely, create a solid foundation, choose autonomy, not regulation…”

“We have made more progress in artificial intelligence (AI) in the last three years than in the preceding three decades. AI is transforming from handy little applications that make our lives easier (from Alexa and Siri to Uber and Netflix) to something more powerful…”


Philosophy and Business Ethics

Are corporations becoming the new arbiters of public morality?
“After Charlottesville, CEOs have become our public conscience. Here’s what that says about capitalism in America.”

How to be Ethical in the Workplace, According to 3 Philosophers
“Whether you’re a journalist, banker, salesman, chef—whatever your career path may be—you’re obviously going to want to be a good professional. A key factor in being “good” in any profession is to be ethical…”

Incidental White Privilege

White Privilege

STUDENT VOICES

By Jade Reyes

Not every issue of morality that we are faced with is easily discernible— with an easily ascertainable correct action. Many of these issues are nuanced and multifaceted, affecting every person differently and involves a weighing process between imperfect alternatives. One of those issues is race or ethnicity and furthermore the perceptions and assumptions that come hand in hand. Race and racial prejudice are intricately woven into the fabric of American history. While the most prominent struggle between Whites and Blacks is entrenched in the legacy of slavery, another more subtle battle persists. This battle, in my personal experience, blurs the line of ethical and moral behavior in many settings; particularly social and business relations. This struggle is the plight of those who pass for another race– specifically those non-Whites who may be perceived as White, such as myself. This presents a unique moral and ethical challenge: having to toe the line between my ‘by chance’ white privilege and allegiance to my ethnic background.

Often the struggle to which I refer is given the name of colorism, in which light skin tones are preferred and fare better in arbitrary categories when compared to darker skin tones. There is this persistent trend; according to the historical record that having lighter skin regardless of your racial or ethnic origin is a good thing— a door opener if you will. For fair-skinned Latinas like myself, the identifier of white is available to me, but it comes as a powerful oxymoron to define myself as a white-Latino. The rich history of Latino and Hispanic people is tinged with repression and marginalization, while placing white race as the perpetrators of that oppression, laden with privilege from the get-go. There are many studies, both scientific and academic, exhibiting the inherent ‘benefits’ of white-passing not limited to better marriage prospects, better socio-economic standing, and better employment opportunity only in correlation to having lighter skin regardless of any other identifying factors including gender or age. In my own experience, the vast majority of people who are not Hispanic or Latino themselves believe that we are to a certain extent homogenous: small in stature, darker in tone, with straight black hair. When one does not fit into the cookie cutter mold that has been cast, there is a sequence of events that can only be described as unsettling to the receiver. At first, there is the glossing over of who you are to accept your external whiteness at face value, allowing you to race-pass should you choose to. Then, should your true ethnicity become known; there is always disbelief or a shot taken at your credibility—somehow you must not know what you’re talking about or you must really be from somewhere else. In my case, I am privileged by my skin color and I have had to learn to navigate a world that consistently mistakes me for something I’m not and only accepts me based on that misconception.

I am the color that white people want me to be, but I am not the person they want me to be nor do they want to be me. It is often just the literal color of my skin that makes me appealing to them. Being labeled as white is problematic because identifying as white ignores all of the struggles that my ancestors went through, and because quite simply, I do not fit into the overarching white historical narrative. My people’s genesis is not located in that kind of whiteness. Often, discerning that I am not actually white is greeted with a sense of unsettlement, like I have somehow upset the natural balance. Colorism can be fickle that way. To offer a small social example, I’ve had others approach me and inquire as to how I keep just the perfect tan over the winter months. The first time this occurred I could not have been older than eleven or twelve. For me, the question did not even make sense because I was not “keeping” a tan—I was not doing anything to my skin, that was just the color that it always was, and I did not know how to respond. Do I admit to being Latina? Do I declare that my unique tone is the physical enduring evidence of the rape of indigenous Puerto Rican women long ago until the blackness faded from my family tree to create me? Do I laugh and play it off? The moment that I own up to being Puerto Rican, the admission is accompanied by varying levels of disbelief, demands for explanations (as if this was really some method designed to hoodwink them!), and requests to speak Spanish as if I need to prove who I am.

People do not like hearing that the preconceived notions they have developed are wrong, especially if they hold unfavorable points of view toward races associated with dark skin tones. This unsettlement can especially manifest itself when expanding business or social circles. I once sat in a job interview for close to half an hour until the manager realized I was not white like her and there was a definite downturn in her attitude toward me—the disappointment in my non-whiteness was palpable. I could not relate to the plight of going on vacation to Mexico and not understanding the natives and getting sunburned. It was almost as if she took personal offense to me severing the imaginary link she had formed between us, like I had deceived her by presently outwardly as a white woman. For her, the idea of who she wanted me to be was preferable to reality.

This extends further into my working experience, where my first name does not betray my Latino lineage but my last name does, leading me to have ‘fooled’ coworkers and managers that assumed me to be white and thus bestowed the ever complicated benefits of white privilege on to me. This is just one instance of the ethical crossroads I find myself at because of the presumptions of others before I have had the chance to self-identify. Working at a sports arena, I have never had my bag searched upon entry, but my ‘brown’ friends have frequently and I am acutely aware that if I wasn’t naturally fair with blonder hair and green eyes things may be different. I once had a fellow Latina coworker, darker skinned then me, tell me that I was only made the team lead during a high profile event because I had a white name and white features and thus would appeal more to the visiting corporate management. In hindsight, she may have been correct.

I live in a culture that values whiteness, even my imperfect whiteness, and seeks to assign privileges to that whiteness that I cannot morally accept. Ethically, I cannot disown my race when it suits me, or when I am hyperaware that my Latino brothers and sisters are victims of colorism that I escape by the happenstance of less melanin in my skin. I cannot stand by the fact that my whiteness means I will not get followed around a store, but my younger brothers will, or that my hair is enviable and my sister’s is unkempt and coarse. My whiteness is a product of history, where colonialism swooped in and somewhere along the line decided that white triumphed over brown. Even more down the line, it mixed with brown enough to create people who look like me: just white enough to be tangentially accepted so long as one plays the part well enough to go undetected. However, I do not want to be accepted that way— to turn one’s back on their identity is to turn one’s back on the heritage, culture, and history that informs the collective identity of all one’s people.

Jade Reyes ’17 is a student at Fordham College Lincoln Center. She is majoring in Political Science.

 

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: March 10, 2017

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Politics

White House Slammed by Federal Ethics Chief for Not Disciplining Kellyanne Conway
U.S. government’s official ethics watchdog blasted White House for not taking disciplinary action against senior counselor Kellyanne Conway for promoting Ivanka Trump’s products on TV

Trump’s Ethics Order Seen as Boost for Shadow Lobbying
President Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress on Tuesday explains executive order to ban lobbying for five years for officials who leave office – addresses the ethics of “draining the swamp”

George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer says Jeff Sessions’ denial of Russia talks ‘a good way to go to jail’
Alleged ethics violations Jeff Sessions may have made when he claimed under oath that he “did not have communications with the Russians”

ACLU lawyer files ethics complaint against Sessions over Russia testimony: report
An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer, Christopher Anders, formally filed an ethics complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee denying any contact with Russian officials

Trump’s team nixed ethics course for White House staff
White House staff has received no ethics training under the Trump transition team and now presidency

Medical Ethics

House Republicans would let employers demand workers’ genetic test results
Bill moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars; employers see that genetic and other health information

Prisoners with serious mental health problems face urgent treatment delays
Prisoners in the UK are supposed to receive mental health services after being referred to such a unit within 14 days and new official numbers have indicated that regulations are not being followed

New pregnancy testing technique needs limits say ethics body
Press release from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics explores the ethics of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) and explains why they are calling for a moratorium on the use of the new technology

Ethical Implications of User Perceptions of Wearable Devices
Wearable devices can save time at medical appointments and may even save lives – ethical implications of having large amounts of personal information stored in devices that are shared with third parties

When Evidence Says No, But Doctors Say Yes
Medical costs increasing and patient benefits are declining  – ethical conundrum of why medical professionals continue to prescribe unnecessary treatment, and calls for responsible regulation

States Wrestle With Legalizing Payments For Gestational Surrogates
Legislators proposed a bill that would regulate gestational surrogacy — potentially adding legal oversight to fertility clinics that facilitate these pregnancies

Environmental Ethics

EPA environmental justice leader resigns, amid White House plans to dismantle program
Key environmental justice leader at the Environmental Protection Agency has resigned, saying recent budget proposal to defund work would harm the people who most rely on the EPA

Why Won’t American Business Push for Action on Climate?
Fortune 500 companies who tout themselves as “green companies” have not stepped up to the plate when it comes to lobbying for climate change regulation

WCC participates in UN panel discussion on climate ethics
World Council of Churches (WCC) explains their involvement on UN’s panel discussion on climate ethics and why a human rights framework should be considered when taking action on climate change

Technology

Why we must teach morality to robots
Ethical input with robots needs to come before, not after, developing other skills

Ethics And Hacking: What You Need To Know
Forbes Technology Council members weigh in on ethics and hacking

Yes, what you do or say in an Uber may be recorded
Uber users to watch what you say and do in the back of those vehicles, as it just may be recorded