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Augustana Center for the Study of Ethics

Founded in 2004, the Augustana Center for the Study of Ethics was established to enrich the teaching-learning experiences for Augustana students by providing greater opportunities to meet and interact with community leaders and to encourage discussions of ethical significance through campus programs and community outreach. The Center sponsors a wide variety of programs, including a special lecture series, fireside conversations and panel discussions, and an annual ethics essay contest.


The Center for the Study of Ethics is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of three faculty members appointed by the Provost of the College, the campus chaplain, two students appointed by the SGA president, and the director of the Center. The Center is assisted in its work by a Community Advisory Committee. Members of this committee participate in fireside conversations and panel discussions on campus, serve as guest lecturers in various classes, and make time available for students who are writing papers and involved in other research projects. Dan Lee, the Marian Taft Cannon Professor in the Humanities, has served as the Center’s director since its founding in 2004.

The Distinguished Lecture Series

Each year, the Center brings to campus a distinguished lecturer who presents a lecture open to the public and, if the schedule allows, joins various classes as a guest lecturer. The lectures are often co-sponsored by other organizations and programs on campus. Participants in the lecture series have included (listed in alphabetical order):

• Representative Cheri Bustos (Illinois 17th Congressional District);
• Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, Distinguished Professor of Jewish Theology at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, who is an internationally recognized scholar in the area of bioethics;
• Donna Freitas, an independent scholar and author who has written extensively about the hook-up culture on college campuses;
• U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa;
• Nikki Kelly, a passionate advocate for the disabled who was Miss Iowa 2012;
• Representative Ray LaHood (Illinois 16th Congressional District and subsequently Secretary of Transportation in the Obama administration); and
• Dr. Gayle E. Woloschak, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Director of the Zygon Center of Religion and Science.

Ethics Essay Contest

Each year the Center sponsors an ethics essay contest to which Augustana students are invited to submit recent work that they have done. The submissions are judged by an outside evaluator, who selects the winners. The winning essays are published by the J. Thomas Tredway Library in Digital Commons, an open-access repository that showcases outstanding scholarly work by Augustana students, faculty and staff. It can be accessed at

Fireside Conversations at the Dahl President’s Home

The Center sponsors an annual fireside conversation at the Dahl President’s Home, hosted by President Steve and Jane Bahls. To keep the group small enough to facilitate conversation and interaction among participants, this event is by invitation only with invitations extended to the Center’s Community Advisory Committee, the Center’s Board of Directors and their guests.

A Cooperative Program with United Township High School

In 2018, the Center initiated a cooperative program with United Township High School in East Moline, Illinois. The Center recruits Augustana faculty members to teach ethics modules in an honors class at the high school. Students in this class are subsequently invited to a dinner at the Dahl President’s home, hosted by President Steve and Jane Bahls. The College provides special scholarships for UTHS students in this class who choose to make Augustana their college home.

Support for the Augustana Center for the Study of Ethics

The work of the Center is supported by grants from the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities and the National Automobile Dealers and the financial support of the following individuals:
• Drs. Amir and Lisa Brothers Arbisser
• Lyn Batcher
• Dr. Christine Dahl
• Albert and Lynne DeSimone
• James Hecker
• Douglas and Nancy Hultquist
• Daniel E. and Ruth J. Lee
• Stuart and Esther Lefstein
• Juliann McHard
• Paul and Janet Moen
• Jo Ellen Sharer
• Thomas and Deann Thoms
• Frederic and Cathie Whiteside

The Center is grateful for their generous support.