Student Essays Confront Ethical Questions of Modern World: The E&C Pulse - October 23, 2019

October 23, 2019 Ben DiPietro

Oct. 23, 2019

Wiesel Ethics Essays Celebrate 30th Anniversary


David Olin, a senior majoring in political economy at the University of California, Berkeley, is the winner of the 2019 Prize in Ethics Essay Contest, awarded by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and its partners, LRN and its Chair, Dov Seidman.


Olin's winning essay, “The View from My Window: The Ethics of Using Violence to Fight Fascism,” examines the ethical ramifications of political violence through the lens of both the 2017 Berkeley neo-Nazi protests, and the Jewish resistance against Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.


He questioned himself for sitting at his window and doing nothing when neo-Nazi protesters marched past his apartment--he wanted to throw something at them, at the least, to show his opposition to their hate--but realized later he could have taken a different action.


"Watching Nazis march beneath me, it seemed impossible to imagine any other moment. I had thought that my choice was between acting violently while I still could, or doing nothing forever. As that moment recedes, I have realized there was a third option. I could have taken the anger I felt and channeled it into peaceful resistance," Olin wrote.


"My regret now is not that I stayed my arm, but that I remained aloof in my window while others protested peacefully outside. It would be naive to think that those marching in neo-Nazi parades could have a change of heart from such efforts, but I am more concerned with those who are not marching for anything. We must convince the apathetic to care, and stop those who are walking down the path of hatred before it becomes too late."


Isabel de Katona, of Barnard College, Columbia University, received second prize for her essay, “Global Citizen,” which explores questions of ethics and nationalism.

"Without radical change to the status quo, I fear a future in which humanity is increasingly divided into groups that are afforded the right of being fully human, and those that are not," de Katona wrote.


"Our world faces intriguing and difficult challenges in the coming years, and fierce, retractive nationalism has proven a poor method of combating such obstacles. The ethics of conscious living and co-survival demand that we reevaluate our current conception of the hierarchy for the sake of us all."


Matthew Zipf of Columbia University took third prize for “Kingdom of the Sick: The Ethics of Assisted Suicide;” Alex Skopic of Misericordia University, and L. Soleil Gaffner of Trinity University, were recognized with honorable mentions.


Professor Wiesel, a writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor, died in 2016. With his wife, Marion Wiesel, he began the essay contest 30 years ago to challenge college students to address the urgent and complex ethical issues that confront us. Since his passing, LRN and Seidman have continued the tradition.

“Professor Elie Wiesel reminded us of the danger of indifference. In fact, he told us, ‘And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides.' That is a particularly apt message today,” said Seidman.


The winning essays can be found on the foundation’s website.



                                                                                                            BEN DIPIETRO




Given the expanding role of E&C professionals, and the extra pressure their programs face, it’s helpful to isolate where and when programs are effective.





LRN invites you to participate in its 2020 Ethics & Compliance Program Effectiveness Survey. All respondents who complete the survey by Oct. 31st will receive a complimentary LRN video training vignette about harassment and discrimination.






ECI's 2019 Global Business Ethics Survey found 77% of employees experienced retaliation when speaking up if their supervisor frequently overlooks questionable behavior. Only 15% of workers experienced retaliation when their supervisors never overlooked questionable behavior.




After decades of research, we still don't clearly understand the factors that make a governance system effective, argues a paper from Stanford.


The U.S. government says it will begin collecting DNA from people seeking asylum at its borders, sparking questions of privacy and human rights, AP reports.


U.S. companies must defend freedom of speech, even if if angers China, The New York Times editorial board writes.


While some CEOs of U.S. companies speak out on issues affecting the 50 states, they are less willing to speak out on international transgressions by authoritarian regimes, Axios reports.


Research published in Science estimates up to five billion people could face food and water shortages by 2050 because of climate change.


Software firm Github says it won't vet potential customers for their morals and values, and told employees they can't talk about politics at work, Register reports.


An offer by Softbank to save WeWork would require the company's founder to exit the business, CNBC reports.


Are there problems with a predictive algorithm used in the U.S. justice system to help judges make the system less biased? MIT Technology Review explores. 


Who is at fault when a board is blindsided by an issue, asks Richard Chambers on the Internal Auditor blog. 


Alison Taylor writes on Export Development Canada's blog about the importance of social responsibility in strengthening a brand.


What's more effective than competing to achieve your goals? Competing less, writes the Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership.



"There is much to be done, there is much that can be person of integrity can make a difference."

- Elie Wiesel, writer, professor, activist, Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor 



The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development launched a Trust in Business initiative to strengthen trust in business. The effort looks at how corporate governance models and market incentives correlate to society's expectations to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. 


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