The Cincinnati Ethics Center Secures a Transformative
$2 Million Gift

In a significant boost to moral reasoning and leadership development in the Greater Cincinnati area, the Cincinnati Ethics Center (CEC) is thrilled to announce two generous $1,000,000 gifts. “These generous donations underscores the growing enthusiasm for our center to help Cincinnatians address key ethical challenges by fostering a culture of thoughtful dialogue and decision-making by developing moral reasoning and dialogue skills in the surrounding area,” said Andrew Cullison, CEC’s founding director.

Since its establishment in January 2022, the CEC has focused on developing robust ethics education and leadership development initiatives. The Center’s strategy to improve the quality of life of Greater Cincinnatians via transformative moral reasoning and ethical leadership development programs was a key factor in attracting this substantial support.

The CEC’s commitment to youth ethics education, particularly through its dynamic partnerships with organizations in the area that work closely with K-12 students, was a particularly exciting subset of the CEC’s work which led to this support.

The Center’s innovative programs, developed with the support of an extensive undergraduate and graduate student internship framework, include:

UC Asst Professor Philosophy, Melissa Jacquart, and CEC Interns lead P4C workshop
UC Asst Professor Philosophy, Melissa Jacquart, and CEC Interns at Clifton Area Neighborhood School

Philosophy for Children (P4C):
In collaboration with UC’s Philosophy Department, this initiative introduces elementary school students to philosophical and ethical inquiry via a well-established age-appropriate curriculum.

E and D at Reading Library
CEC Interns lead Ethics and Dragons session at Reading Library

Ethics & Dragons:
It turns out that playing Dungeons and Dragons is a proven way to develop moral reasoning and leadership skills in young adults. Teaming up with the Cincinnati and Hamilton Public Library, this unique program merges the imaginative world of Dungeons & Dragons with philosophical and ethical exploration, catering to youths aged 11-18 across five library branches in Hamilton County. Lisa Soper, Youth Program Coordinator for Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, shared “The Library is so excited to see this partnership continue to expand. Ethics and Dragons offers young people a unique way to develop critical thinking and cooperation skills while having a great time!”

Andy Cullison leading a high school ethics workshop at Dater High School
Andy Cullison leading a high school ethics workshop at Dater High School

K-12 Curriculum Development and Teacher Training:

The Cincinnati Ethics Center has begun to pilot programs that help area teachers organically infuse moral reasoning and dialogue skill development into their existing curriculum. “This is a more productive way to develop these skills,” said Cullison, “It turns out that when ethics education is embedded into other courses and classes students are taking, you see greater gains than if they took a stand alone ethics class”

Preliminary round
Mt. Healthy competes vs. St. Xavier in a preliminary round.

Greater Cincinnati Regional High School Ethics Bowl

In 2023, the Cincinnati Ethics Center introduced the Greater Cincinnati Regional High School Ethics Bowl competition. Prior to its establishment, local schools had to travel three hours to the nearest regional competition, and only one school from the area had participated in the program over the past decade. Recognizing this as a significant participation barrier, we were convinced that the skills honed through Ethics Bowl would greatly benefit students in our region. Consequently, we launched the inaugural competition with five schools fielding eight teams.

The second edition, held in January 2024, marked a substantial growth, attracting 14 schools—both public and private—and forming 21 teams. This surge catapulted our regional competition to become the sixth largest in the country.

These generous gifts will help us pursue our vision beyond the immediate impacts of these programs. We hope to grow our services so that every K-12 student in Cincinnati has access to robust moral reasoning and leadership, and our supporter aspires for the University of Cincinnati to set a precedent and serve as a national model for how an urban-serving research institution can improve overall quality of life across the metropolitan area. This investment in the CEC is a testament to the belief that nurturing moral reasoning and dialogue skills (particularly at an early age) lead to substantial improvements in overall community well-being.

The Cincinnati Ethics Center expresses its deepest gratitude for this donation, which not only validates its past achievements but also secures a promising future for Greater Cincinnatians.

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