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About Us


In general, ethicists seek to answer questions about how we ought to live. Answers to this question draw on the full range of human knowledge and experience, including our great religious and philosophical traditions. Here at Villanova University, we believe that at the heart of every human endeavor we find assumptions about what it means to live well as human beings in the world and in relationships with others—human, non-human, and divine. The aim of the Ethics Program is to provide students with opportunities to explore these assumptions, to understand their origins in our great intelltucal traditions, and to engage them critically using methods and resources both theological and philosophical.

With this in mind, the Ethics Program offers an introductory course in ethics (ETH 2050) that is a required course for all students in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the School of Business. In addition, the Ethics Program provides both a concentration and minor that is available to students in all of the university’s undergraduate colleges. These offer students opportunities to pursue in depth an intellectual discipline that studies human character and conduct—who we ought to be and what we ought to do. Both the concentration and the minor promote a greater understanding of ethics as a discipline from theological and philosophical perspectives, and both contribute to Villanova’s character as a Catholic, Augustinian university.

The Ethics Program community comprises three permanent faculty, three post-doctoral Catherine of Siena Fellows, an administrative assistant and undergraduate student workers.  Additional faculty from Theology and Religious Studies, Philosophy, Humanities and Augustinian Traditions, and the Center for Peace and Justice serve the program through teaching and administrative service on our steering committee. We are proud to be an interdisciplinary program that works with interested parties from around our great university.

The faculty and staff of the Ethics Program in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Villanova University joins the chorus of voices raised in horror and protest not only at the inhumane murders of Ms. Breonna Taylor and Mr. George Floyd but also at the long American history of disproportionate violence and killing inflicted on vulnerable communities, particularly people of color, by those entrusted with preserving public order and enforcing the law. The history of our country cannot be told without sustained and serious reflection on the white supremacy and structural racism that permeate our society. Black lives matter. Black lives matter because we are brothers and sisters. Black lives matter because we are members of the same family created in the image of God. Black lives matter because of our inherent human dignity. Black lives matter. It is a profound stain on our country that such words must be raised in protest and on bended knee in response to yet another murder of an African American person at the hands of police officers.


We recognize that we are complicit in systems that have privileged some at the expense of others and that complicity can exist side by side with a desire for justice for all victims of racism. While the Ethics Program has striven to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our teaching and hiring, we realize that there is more work to be done in our anti-racist efforts and much to learn.


To this end, we commit to

·         engage in personal and communal reflection and education on white supremacy, individual racism, and systemic racism;

·         designate a Catherine of Siena Fellowship for a teacher-scholar whose work focuses on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and

·         collaborate with others on campus to create and expand spaces where we can engage in sustained and serious reflection on how white supremacy and racism affect Villanova University and the broader society.


We must do this work at Villanova. In the spirit of St. Augustine, we are reminded that “justice is the cornerstone of civil society. Upon it depend the unity and nobility of any human society.” Racism is a threat to the common good and diminishes the flourishing of us all. Keeping in mind Villanova’s three core values of Veritas, Unitas, and Caritas, we commit to pursuing justice with love for all.


Allison Covey                          Kristyn Sessions          

Mark Doorley                          Willa Swenson-Lengyel

Peggy Elder                            Brett Wilmot

Audra Goodnight                    Mark Wilson