Key Initiative 9:
Ethics and Care Center

The Cedar Crest College Center for Ethics and Care would be the only college- or university-based ethics center in the nation to focus exclusively on the ethical issues surrounding care-giving. Such a center will align with our mission as a women’s college and our acknowledged leadership in several of the care-giving professions.

As a women’s college, Cedar Crest is perfectly situated to house such a center. Women still make up the vast majority of workers in the care–giving professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, women were 87.2% of dietitians and nutritionists; 90% of registered nurses; 97% of preschool and kindergarten teachers; 78.7% of social workers; 68% of counselors; and 67% of psychologists. Women also make up the majority of home-based caregivers, for elderly spouses and parents as well as for their children. The “ethics of care” is a term coined in the 1970’s by Harvard psychologist Carol Gilligan to describe a uniquely feminine approach to morality, but has a broader application to the specific ethical concerns of people in the care-giving professions (male and female). In addition, it speaks to the condition of all women’s lives, as women not only predominate in the care-giving professions but also devote significant personal time to taking care of children and the elderly. This Center has the potential to provide education and resources for all of these aspects of care.

The challenges facing care-givers, both professionally and personally, will likely increase given the stress on the Social Security and health care systems that is predicted to occur with the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. Cedar Crest is positioned to provide national leadership on the ethics of care-giving. Given our acknowledged excellence in education for the care-giving professions (nursing, social work, nutrition, psychology, education), we have the potential to bring together our student practitioners, the best academic minds in the field, and care-giving professionals to provide a forum for discourse and scholarship on the issues of care, and to provide education and resources to individuals and professionals engaged in care-giving.

The Center for Ethics and Care will provide leadership in the College and community focused on the ethical issues arising from care-giving. It will offer a certificate in Ethics and Care for students in various majors across campus while providing resources related to the challenges of care-giving to the community as a whole, through a web-site and public lecture series. Lectures and workshops will be delivered on-site in senior centers and retirement homes, hospitals and human services agencies, and in community-based locations such as libraries, thus providing valuable outreach to local community.

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