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The John T. McLaughlin, M.D. Student Fellowships in Ethics

A gift from John T. McLaughlin, M.D., a 1937 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Villanova University, makes possible two undergraduate fellowships each year. These fellows will create space for ethics discussions on campus by a variety of creative, innovative and effective means. Fellowships are awarded late in the spring semester each year. The Fellowship runs the duration of the entire fiscal year after the award. (June 1 to May 31 or summer and the following academic year). All Fellowship activities will take place during this time.

Students must be enrolled as full-time undergraduates during the period of their funded activities. Rising juniors and seniors are eligible for Ethics Fellowships.

 Faculty Mentors should be full time members of the Ethics Faculty, which includes Catherine of Siena Fellows.

Students from all colleges are welcome to apply for the Fellowship. CLAS and VSB students must have taken ETH 2050 to apply.  Nursing and Engineering students can use the following as equivalents for ETH 2050 for the purposes of this Fellowship: PHI 2115 or PHI 2155 or PHI 2180. All student proposals must focus on ethics, though proposals can be relevant to their field of undergraduate study.

Collaboration between mentors and the Fellows is encouraged, but student leadership of the project must be the core element.

          All proposals must include an overview of the project and description of its significance.

          Depending on the project, students must complete the Responsible Conduct of Research workshop (offered in early June). The Villanova Center for Research and Fellowships offers this workshop.

The Ethics Program in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is pleased to announce two undergraduate Fellowships in Ethics:

          The John T. McLaughlin, M.D. Student Fellowship in Ethics

          The Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA Student Fellowship in Ethics

The aim of these Fellowships is to support student opportunities to research, develop and execute undergraduate co-curricular or extra-curricular programming aimed at expanding ethics discussions on topical issues.

The range of projects is broad, including but not limited to the following examples: the preparation of a research paper disseminated to one’s peers, the creation and execution of a performance piece, the planning and execution  of a series of workshops for undergraduates, the development and publishing of virtual materials for undergraduates, the sponsoring of a movie series followed by moderated discussion or the development of experiential learning modules for residence life focused on the moral development of undergraduate students.

For the McLaughlin Fellowship, preference will be given to student proposals that focus on bioethics or healthcare ethics.

For the Sr. Thea Bowman Fellowship, preference will be given to student proposals that focus on issues related to minoritized communities.

Fellows will serve on the Ethics Program Advisory Council (one meeting a year) and serve as an ambassador for the Ethics Programs with their peers.

Fellows will attend the Undergraduate Ethics Symposium, annual ethics lecture (fall) and the Praxis Award celebration (spring).

The names of the Fellows will appear on the Ethics Program webpage.

Fellows will turn in an “end of the year” report, due during finals week of the spring semester of their fellowship. This document outlines the results of their Fellowship activities and should include a reflection on those activities.

Fellows receive a $3,000 stipend.

Typically, a fellow is expected to spend the equivalent of 150 hours over the course of the time of their fellowship in the research, planning and implementation of their project. [150 hours x $20 = $3,000] For example, they might use 100 hours over the summer to research and develop their project, and then during the following academic year, 50 hours to implement the project, as well as pursue other activities related to the fellowship.

Fellows can also apply for supplemental funding to support the research, development and execution of their project. This funding is limited to $500.

This is a two-step application process.

(1) You must complete an application form.

(2) You must also create a proposal following the requirements listed below.

 Your full proposal must be submitted to by at 11:59PM on the second Friday of April.

 The file should be a pdf, organized as follows, and the file should be named as follows:

[Your last name, your first name, Ethics Fellowship Application]


  • Resume

  One page limit.

  • Project Proposal

This two-page document provides an overview of your Ethics Fellowship project. Developing a strong, feasible and compelling project proposal is the most important aspect of a successful application.

Key elements include (1) an overview of the proposed project (e.g. What kind of project do you envision? Who is the project’s audience? What elements will be involved in the project? What is the timeline you anticipate? Is this project feasible within budget and time constraints?)  (2) a description of the proposed project’s significance (e.g. Why is this project needed? What outcomes or impacts do you anticipate? Why are you the best person to undertake this project?)  A maximum of two pages of text will be accepted. A third page may be used for figures.

Format: single-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins.

  •  Bibliography
  •  Personal Statement

This one-page narrative is designed to give reviewers a picture of you as an individual and about your trajectory and future plans. Concentrate on how your background has influenced your development and how that relates to the Ethics Fellowship. This should not be a reiteration of our resume or elaboration of the Project Proposal. Why is this project important to you, academically, personally, or professionally?

Format: single-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins.

  • Unofficial transcript
  • Budget (if applicable)

Provide a budget for anticipated costs related to the research, planning and execution of your project.

 If the applicant knows that the project will demand more than $500 to be successfully completed, then the applicant must account for or indicate the source of the additional funds.

The budget document should consist of a table of the budget information with brief justification. A budget justification must accompany each expense item and include: Item, Quantity, Cost, Justification, Total.

 Materials and Supplies – Itemize materials and supplies by nature of expense. Provide the basis for cost estimates or computations (e.g. vendor quotes, prior purchase of similar or like item, etc.)

  Other – (Subscriptions, access to archives, etc.)

  •  Faculty Mentor Endorsement

Your faculty mentor should provide a letter of endorsement addressing your ability to successfully complete the proposed project. The Faculty Mentor endorsement letter should be submitted by your proposed mentor directly, by email to

The letter should be in pdf format.

The file should be named in this format [Your last name, your first name, Ethics Fellowship Mentor]


         1.      ____Application Form


         2.      ____ Resume: Listing your college honors, scholarship, extra-curricular  activities, publications, community service, performances, employment, hobbies/interests, etc. that you consider most significant.


         3.      ____ Project proposal and citations: Two pages of text, plus one additional page for figures as needed.


         4.      ____ Personal Statement: One page detailing your background and your motivations for pursuing the Ethics Fellowship.


         5.      ____ Transcript(s): Villanova Transcripts can be unofficial. If you would like to submit an official transcript, please request one in advance from the Registrar’s office through MyNova. If you have attended other undergraduate institutions for previous full time or summer study, include transcript(s) from these schools.


         6.      ____ Budget (if applicable)


         7.      ____Faculty Mentor Endorsement: Your faculty sponsor should address your academic potential and your ability to successfully complete the proposed project. The Mentor should submit this directly to

You have been asked to serve as the Faculty Mentor for an Ethics Program Undergraduate Fellowship in Ethics. If awarded, the Ethics Program will provide funding for the student to conduct independent research, planning and execution in line with the proposed project, under your mentorship. This Fellowship is granted to students with strong academic, leadership or artistic abilities, who show potential to excel in their academic lives and in their contributions to the Villanova community.

As part of your endorsement, you are asked to write a letter of recommendation. In this letter, please address the following:

How long you have known the student and in what capacity.

With specific examples, provide your evaluation of the applicant’s academic, leadership  or artistic abilities with respect to the proposal project.

Your willingness to commit to serving as the faculty mentor for this project.

The nature of any special training or preparation the student has completed that would allow execution of the project (may include relevant course work or independent study).

Your role as mentor or collaborator in the project.

Your critical assessment of the probability of successful completion of the work outlined in the student’s proposal.

The nature of any other support you will make available for the project (e.g. resource material, networking opportunities, etc.).

In general terms, where the project fits into your area of specialty or field of study.

Your letter of endorsement must contain a declaration of your commitment to serve as Mentor to the student and state your commitment to assist the student in completing a successful, active, independent and well-grounded project; this commitment is essential – and quite distinct from utilizing the student as a research assistant for your own scholarly research. It also assures the student will engage in a meaningful academic experience with you as a collaborator.

The Fellowship Mentor will receive a $1,000 stipend.

For more information, please contact Dr. Kristyn Sessions

image of Sister Thea Bowman

Image: Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration /