Feature image of Ethics Institute

The interdisciplinary Ethics Institute at Northeastern University was launched in 2011 and remains dedicated to bringing ethical analysis and evaluation to bear on social and environmental issues, as well as to promoting ethical reflection on decisions and challenges in contemporary life.

Audience(s): Academics & Faculty


  • Working Groups: Urban Studies Group, Democracy and Social Choice Group, Rossetti Research Group, AI and Data Ethics Group
  • Information Ethics Roundtable: We live in an “information society.” Information and information technologies are increasingly essential to our social, economic, and political interactions. Given this, serious reflection on information ethics is imperative. “Information ethics” studies the value questions that arise in the creation, control, and access to information. The Information Ethics Roundtable is a yearly conference, which brings together researchers from disciplines such as philosophy, information science, communications, public administration, anthropology and law to discuss the ethical issues such as information privacy, intellectual property, intellectual freedom, and censorship.
  • Public Scholarship: Public scholarship is research-based work intended for audiences beyond the university. At its best, public scholarship bridges the gap between scholarly expertise and the public’s desire to better understand current events. Public scholarship of religion and philosophy, for instance, provides important textual, cultural, and historical context for pressing issues like healthcare legislation, climate change, and immigration reform. If you haven’t studied religion and philosophy, it’s not immediately clear how these topics help shape these conversations. Public scholarship presents academic research and teaching in readable but nuanced ways, helping non-experts better understand the most crucial challenges facing our increasingly global community.
  • Sacred Writes Public Scholarship on Religion: Generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and hosted by Northeastern University, Sacred Writes provides support, resources, and networks for scholars of religion committed to translating the significance of their research to a broader audience. Over the life of the project (2018-2022), we will host trainings for scholars, create and fund partnerships between scholars and media outlets, and convene meetings to discuss best practices for public scholarship.
  • Ethics Bowl Team: In 2017, the Philosophy and Religion Department launched an Ethics Bowl program. Ethics Bowl is a collegiate debate competition where teams of between 4-6 students present arguments on specific cases based on normative ethical frameworks and detailed empirical information. In the months leading up to a competition, participating teams receive a packet of ethically complex and controversial cases that will be the subjects of debates. Topics covered in recent competitions include “the Muslim Ban”, “Are rivers people?”, “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement”, and “Fake News”. The most challenging aspect of Ethics Bowl is that teams must be prepared to argue both sides of a topic or case, since the cases are chosen randomly during each round of competition, and teams choose the position they defend based on the flip of a coin.
  • The Ethics Institute also supports and holds many workshops and conferences throughout the year.