December 15, 2001
Fellowships provide something that's always in short supply for faculty members and graduate students--extended blocks of time to do research. Now Tulane faculty members and graduate students working in the area of ethics and public affairs need look no further than their own backyard to find fellowship support. The Center for Ethics and Public Affairs, under the auspice of Tulane's Murphy Institute for Political Economy, is sponsoring universitywide fellowships for faculty members who are exploring ethical and moral issues in their teaching and research.
Fellowships also will be offered to Tulane graduate students who have completed their preliminary examinations. Rick Teichgraeber, director of the Murphy Institute and interim head of the ethics and public affairs center, says the fellowships provide an infrastructure for advanced faculty research as well as a stimulus for improving production of PhDs.
"This is the first venture that I know of uptown to provide a substantial infusion of financial support for faculty and graduate-student fellowships, and to do it in a way that is designed to serve a universitywide scholarly community," he says.
The Center for Ethics and Public Affairs, which is in the first year of a three-year startup phase, is funded partly by a $300,000 Wall Fund grant. Substantial support for the center also comes from the Tulane Murphy Foundation and more modest support from the deans of the schools of business, law, engineering and architecture, as well as the dean of the liberal arts and sciences faculty.
"This is a bottom-up initiative," says Teichgraeber. Tulane has many faculty members whose teaching and research focus on ethical questions. The center is about allowing them to do what they're doing more visibly and more successfully.
Critical issues of right and wrong, justice and injustice, citizenship and community, the ethics of scientific research and the ethics of the professions are being examined by faculty and graduate students in departments and schools across the university. Teichgraeber hopes they will step forward and apply for the fellowships by the Jan. 22 deadline. Teichgraeber sees the faculty fellowships, which this year are restricted to Tulane faculty but in subsequent years will be awarded in an international competition, as a way to enhance the reputation of the university.
Faculty and graduate students will participate in weekly seminars organized by the center. Such interaction is not likely to happen, says Teichgraeber, without having the architecture of an interdisciplinary center like this. "That is an important part of the center because the idea here is that you break down barriers between units."
The center's interdisciplinary purpose is reflected in its faculty executive committee, which comprises 14 faculty members from the schools of architecture, engineering, law, medicine and public health and tropical medicine, as well as from the liberal arts and sciences departments of political science and philosophy. The committee members or a subcommittee, if some members apply for the fellowships themselves, will make the selections of the fellowship recipients in March.
Under the umbrella of the Murphy Institute, the center aims to expand the institute's mission and make it more of a universitywide resource. The Murphy Institute was founded in 1980 as a program concerned with the study of the interconnections between politics and economics. It has focused on the undergraduate political economy major, and it has also sponsored faculty conferences, lectures and a series of political economy papers.
Teichgraeber says that from the start the Murphy Institute was expansive in its approach to political economy as an interdisciplinary field and has not limited its program to economics and more traditional political science. As he sought ways to advance the Murphy Institute and spread its intellectual and financial resources more broadly through the university, Teichgraeber says he looked at the landscape of the university and at the strengths of Murphy Institute faculty.
"It was clear that our strength, both in teaching and research, fell in the area of moral and political philosophy. The new journal Politics, Philosophy & Economics, edited by philosophy professor Gerald Gaus and associate professor Jonathan Riley, is visible evidence of that academic strength."
Teichgraeber says the journal is an important part of the center's external identity, and it provides an opportunity for Tulane faculty to showcase their work in the same arena with eminent international scholars. Lisa Luongo is the managing editor of the journal and also will coordinate the application process for the fellowships. While the ethics and public affairs center awaits the go-ahead to build or renovate a site for its offices and seminar rooms, Teichgraeber says he didn't want to delay offering the fellowships.
"We decided we needed to get some momentum. We needed to get some resources in the hands of Tulane faculty and graduate students now."
For more information about the fellowships, call 865-5317.
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