The Don Davis Program in Ethical Leadership was founded in 2005 through the generous support of Don Davis Jr., a 1942 graduate of Penn State and the retired chairman and CEO of Stanley Works. His father, Donald W. Davis Sr., founded the advertising program at Penn State in 1936. The program was created in order to establish an across-the-curriculum program in ethics for the College of Communications and to provide the resources necessary to support the College’s focus on social responsibility.
Specific weeks will be designated each semester during which all departments in the College will place particular emphasis on ethics and social responsibility. Contemporary case studies will be created each year that will be constructed around the way a media outlet, agency or company handled a thorny ethical issue. The Davis Professor in Ethics, in consultation with others, will be responsible for selecting and devising case studies for each of the four departments in the College.
The concentrated and coordinated weeks emphasizing ethics will bring to campus major players from the companies, agencies or outlets that found themselves entangled in the challenging issues. The weeks also will involve systematically designed readings and simulations to prepare students for the critical thinking that must go into resolving complex situations.
Ethics and the College of Communications
The College of Communication has a long history of emphasizing the importance of ethics and social responsibility through both its curriculum and practice. It has two has endowed lecture series on the topic: the Donald W. Davis Symposium in Advertising Ethics and the N. N. Oweida Lecture in Journalism Ethics.
In 2004, the College also launched the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, whose research and programming centerpiece is ethics and responsibility. In addition, Jimirro Center for the Study of Media Influence, established in 2002 and housed in the College, devotes time and resources to the study of ethics, fairness and balance.
A course in media ethics is required of all journalism majors. In addition, questions of ethics, fairness, responsibility, credibility and good citizenship are woven into the fabric of the majority of courses throughout the entire College curriculum.