New Center for Ethics and Human Rights to tackle world’s most pressing issues

Center for Ethics and Human Rights Board

Left to right: Matt Hickey, professor of Health and Exercise Science, Gwen Gorzelsky, executive director of TILT and professor of English, Lumina Albert, associate professor of Management, and Moti Gorin, an associate professor of Philosophy, are members of the leadership board for CSU’s Center for Ethics and Human Rights. (Photo: John Eisele, CSU) 

Lumina Albert grew up in India, in a society where she says women and girls were considered lower in the social hierarchy. These circumstances taught her to sometimes ask uncomfortable questions from an early age about her role in making change.

“This laid a passion in my heart that I needed to do something to change the situation I was seeing, where women and girls were being oppressed,” she said. “That brought into my heart a desire for working with students and a commitment to work for the advancement of ethics and human rights.”

Albert is now living both of those passions at Colorado State University. She is an associate professor in management at the College of Business and is now the founder and executive director of the newly formed Center for Ethics and Human Rights.

Spanning all eight CSU colleges, the center was officially approved by Faculty Council last May and Provost and Executive Vice President Mary Pedersen in June. It will be housed in The Institute for Learning and Teaching and the Office of the Provost.

“The decision to support the development of a CSU Center for Ethics and Human Rights was simply the right thing to do given our mission of academic and research excellence, our institutional values of equity and social justice, and the need to prepare the next generation of leaders for an increasingly complex world,” Pedersen said. “Its impact will be significant, and I am grateful to Dr. Albert for leading the call to establish this center and accepting the role of executive director.”

Albert said that she envisions the center tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues through discussions between experts across all disciplines.

What will the Center for Ethics and Human Rights do?

Albert has a presentation outlining the center’s goals, and it includes a slide detailing the United Nations’ lofty targets for sustainable development, which she said inspired the center and guided its mission.

“It says we need to fight poverty, ensure there’s zero hunger and that people have the right to good health, well-being and a quality education,” she said. “All of these things, when I reflect on them, give me great joy when I realize that it is possible to tackle these problems.”

It’s something that she believes CSU’s expertise across virtually all disciplines is uniquely equipped to tackle, especially when it comes to issues that are central to Colorado.

“For decades, CSU has been known for its work related to water,” Albert said. “Much of this work has been related to engineering and maybe natural science, but it’s important for this work to be interdisciplinary and collaborative so we bring voices from each college into these conversations. For instance, business ethics researchers know that there is growing competition for water, and it is important to ensure that clean water is available for marginalized communities around the world, even while businesses use this precious resource.”

Albert said that businesses are moving away from an exclusive focus on profitability to equally prioritizing social responsibility and addressing social challenges. OtterBox CEO Jim Parke exemplifies this philosophy.

“I am over-the-moon excited for the CSU Center for Ethics and Human Rights,” Parke said. “It is the culmination of many years of effort by the faculty to make sure students receive a holistic education and make a difference in the world.

“The business world is starved for ethical leadership, and I am optimistic that this center will play an integral role in training tomorrow’s leaders and equipping them with the tools to make a difference. This is a topic that I am personally passionate about, and as an employer, I look forward to hiring students who have a similar commitment to ethics.”

He will be a speaker in the CSU Provost’s Ethics Colloquium series that is being relaunched. Other planned activities from the Center for Ethics and Human Rights include:

  • Pursuing funding for research focused on ethics and human rights at all eight CSU colleges.
  • Educating students in ethical leadership and decision-making.
  • Hosting events, conferences, symposia, workshops, lectures and classes highlighting ethics and human rights.
  • Bringing back the CSU Provost’s Ethics Colloquium, which promotes cross-disciplinary conversations on ethics-related issues.
  • Addressing and advocating against unethical practices and human rights challenges in the local, regional and international communities. That includes fighting human trafficking and modern slavery, as well as ensuring access to clean water.
  • Providing training to professionals in fields ranging from law enforcement to medicine to sports to ensure ethical practices and to maximize social impact.

Who will be involved in the Center for Ethics and Human Rights?

In addition to the leadership team, the center brings together 20 CSU faculty experts from across all colleges.

Rick Miranda, CSU’s former provost and the current chief academic officer for the CSU System, said that these discussions about ethics are particularly important in today’s climate.

“I think it’s a moment in history, in and out of the University, where many disciplines are being more self-reflective about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it,” Miranda said.

The Provost’s Ethics Colloquium was started under Miranda’s leadership in the administration, and he said that he was pleased to hear the new center will continue its evolution.

Meet the leadership board

· Senior Strategic Advisor Rick Miranda, chief academic officer for the CSU System, professor of mathematics, College of Natural Sciences

· Gwen Gorzelsky, professor of English and executive director of The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT)

· Matt Hickey, professor of health and exercise science, University distinguished teaching scholar and associate dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences

· Moti Gorin, associate professor for the Department of Philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts

“You would be hard-pressed to find a subject Dr. Albert is not interested in, that she’s not passionate about,” Miranda said. “She’s got an enormous amount of energy and is extremely articulate, eloquent and persuasive.”

“She’s just a wonderful, wonderful asset to campus in the College of Business and now the new Center for Ethics and Human Rights.”

Albert will not be going at it alone. The list of faculty currently involved in the new center is constantly growing.

Here are some of the people who are involved:

  • Chris Becker, Ph.D., senior clinical professor for business ethics, College of Business (expert area: virtue ethics, business ethics, sustainability ethics, environmental ethics, ethics of design) · Paulo Brito, MBA, instructor, College of Business (sustainability, international business)
  • Sonali Diddi, Ph.D., associate professor, Design and Merchandising, College of Health and Human Science (expert area: labor trafficking and exploitation in the design and merchandising industry)
  • Lisa Stright, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Geosciences, College of Natural Resources (expert area: access to energy as a human right)
  • Vincent Basile, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Education (expert area: social justice in education)
  • Sharon Anderson, Ph.D., professor of education, School of Education (expert area: ethics in education)
  • Karrin Anderson, Ph.D., professor of communication studies, College of Liberal Arts (expert area: human trafficking)
  • Dawn DeTienne, Ph. D., professor of entrepreneurship, College of Business (expert area: dark entrepreneurship; unethical entrepreneurship)
  • Katie McShane, Ph.D., professor, College of Liberal Arts (expert area: environmental ethics; environmental values)
  • Karan Venayagamoorthy, Ph. D., Professor of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering (expert area: access to clean water; environmental fluid mechanics)
  • Theresa Wernimont, senior lecturer, College of Business (expert area: diversity, equity and inclusion curriculum; academic integrity)