‘Equipping students with an ethical compass.’ What does it mean, and what does it imply?

Ethics and Education 16 (1):91-107 (2021)


ABSTRACT The expression that professionals should be led by their moral or ethical compass is increasingly used by academics, policy makers, professionals, and educational institutes. Dutch universities of applied sciences, for example, explicitly aim to educate their students to become professionals equipped with a moral compass. This moral or ethical compass is a metaphor of which people intuitively grasp its meaning, but our literature review also shows that various interpretations are possible. We found three clusters of proposed ethical compasses expressing its a) content, b) form, or c) use, which we present in this article. Thereafter, we evaluate which compass can meaningfully assist professionals and, therefore, should be part of the aims and content of education provided by UAS. Based on this evaluation, we describe the possibilities and boundaries of UAS’ contribution to the development of their students’ ethical compass.

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