Philosophy Department Institutes Professional Ethics Certificate Program

Posted: January 31, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

In light of recent discoveries of accounting fraud and other questionable practices by large companies, Mason’s Department of Philosophy is helping to ensure that future corporate leaders develop the problem-solving skills that will guide them in conforming to high ethical standards.

Starting in fall 2007, the department will offer a one-year Certificate Program in Professional Ethics in cooperation with its Professional Ethics Advisory Board. This program will enable a group of professionals interested in developing skills to recognize ethical problems, identify the main issues in addressing these situations and resolve these issues in ways that are beneficial to their organizations.

“Any corporate culture is enhanced by an atmosphere of ethical behavior,” says Ted Kinnaman, chair of the Department of Philosophy. “Employees become more personally committed to corporate goals if an aura of ethical behavior is institutionalized within their company. Promoting high ethical standards makes good business sense.”

Students enrolled in the certificate program will progress through courses as a cohort and will participate in specialized programs targeted to their interests.

“By taking classes together and participating in other cohort activities, students will develop strong networking relationships and promote interaction across the Northern Virginia business community,” says Kinnaman.

With recommendations from the advisory board, which includes representatives from Verizon and Lockheed Martin, among others, the program will also offer monthly seminars with local business leaders to discuss specific ethical issues as they pertain to the business community.

Faculty members teaching in the program, all of whom have expertise in the area of ethics, include Kinnaman, Roger Paden, Lisa Eckenwiler and Shannon Skousgaard. Skousgaard, for example, works with her students to evaluate and choose the annual National Capital Business Ethics Award winners. The department will also soon be hiring a specialist in the area of bioethics, an important emerging field.

Applications for the Certificate Program in Professional Ethics are currently being accepted. Classes will be held in the evenings to accommodate the schedules of working professional students.

For more information, contact Kinnaman at or 703-993-4328 or visit

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