UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two Penn State faculty members have been named Faculty Fellows of the Rock Ethics Institute. These individuals will become active partners in the Rock Ethics Institute faculty community and will form curricular and research collaborations with faculty hired through Penn State’s co-funded ethics hires program, a transformative effort that aims to make Penn State a leader in collaborative, interdisciplinary ethics research and in ethical literacy.
The 2017 Faculty Fellows are Gary John Adler Jr., assistant professor of sociology and Martin T. Pietrucha, professor of civil engineering and former director of the transportation operations program.
With the Faculty Fellows program in its second year, the Rock Ethics Institute aims to continue its mission to promote ethical literacy and catalyze ethical leadership throughout the Penn State community and to foster interdisciplinary ethics research designed to address significant social issues and pressing world problems.
“This year’s faculty fellows have worked on the topics of food ethics, and in particular school lunches, sexual violence and recovery therapies, as well as integrating ethics in the agricultural and biological engineering program at Penn State University,” said Eduardo Mendieta, associate director of the Rock Ethics Institute. “Even though this program is only in its second year, it has already shown its efficacy in generating innovative curriculum, interdisciplinary and collaborative research, and nurturing ethical literacy. We are delighted that Gary Adler and Martin Pietrucha will join our research team and collaborate with our core faculty.”
Adler is interested in how individuals understand and why they commit to global social issues, including attempts to address these issues. Through his fellowship, he will analyze the rise of the “new global civic engagement” (NGCE) and develop a theoretical framework to understand how various organizations broker civic engagement projects, including the use of empathy games and simulations.
Pietrucha will investigate the ethical implications of transportation systems. Since the advent of the signal fire, drum, and semaphore, the development of communication technologies have routinely and progressively outstripped humans’ ability to move in space (i.e., communications “move” faster than transport). Pietrucha will look into the ethical considerations of modern transportation including ethical choices embedded in communication, transport and access. According to Pietrucha, whenever we move, or have something of ours move, and, conversely, when we prevent someone from moving, or something of theirs from moving, we are potentially making ethical choices that call for better understanding and analysis.
Through education, research and outreach, each Fellow will help the Rock Ethics Institute catalyze ethically informed scholarship, promote ethical literacy, and encourage ethical decision-making at Penn State and beyond.
The Rock Ethics Institute was established through a $5 million gift in 2001 from Doug and Julie Rock to the College of the Liberal Arts. The institute’s mission is to promote ethical awareness and inquiry across the University, and in the public and professional sectors, through a three-fold emphasis on teaching, research and outreach. Recently, the Rocks endowed the Nancy Tuana Directorship of the Rock Ethics Institute with an additional $5 million gift, which was part of a larger commitment they made to the College during "For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students."