Reflections before departure

Today I am headed to Switzerland! Though the primary goal for my trip is to attend Global Perspectives, I am making a few additional stops before and after the program to collaborate with researchers from other universities in Switzerland and Sweden on work related to my PhD project. I’m incredibly excited for the opportunities that await – visiting a diverse group of universities (both for Global Perspectives and my research), seeing new sites (the Alps!), and meeting new people. I have very little international travel experience so I am eager to see a new part of the world. I’m also hoping that this will be a time of reflection. The last 9 months or so have really been a bit of a blur. I’ve been a member of the Flint Water Study team from Virginia Tech that helped expose dangerous levels of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan. I took an ethics class during my graduate studies that was really transformational for me, but the lessons learned in that class were really forced into painful clarity for me when I witnessed what happened in Flint. We’ve now learned that some engineers and other public servants knew for a long time that Flint was not in compliance with federal law which protects drinking water and stood by while children were poisoned by their own drinking water. I’ve often wondered if more opportunities for ethics education could help to prevent this type of behavior – if giving students a safe atmosphere where they can really think through what their moral and professional obligations are before they are faced with real-world dilemmas can help to create responsible professionals and better global citizens. I am really looking forward to this trip as an opportunity to step outside of my usual circles and to spend some time assessing what these lessons I’ve learned and views I’ve developed about the importance of ethics education mean on a broader scale. I’m also interested to hear how ethics education might differ between the universities, each with such distinct and often highly specialized fields of study.

Leave a Comment