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ERIC Number: ED498976
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Dec
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Preparing Professionals as Moral Agents. Carnegie Perspectives
Sullivan, William
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
In today's environment of unrelenting economic and social pressures, the writer makes the case that the professions need their educational centers more than ever as resources and as rallying points for renewal. Breakdowns in institutional reliability and professional self-policing, as revealed in waves of scandals in business, accounting, journalism, and the law, have spawned a cynicism on the part of the public that threatens the predictable social environment needed for a healthy society. For professionals to overcome this public distrust, they must embrace a new way of looking at their role to include civic responsibility for themselves and their profession, and a personal commitment to a deeper engagement with society. The idea of the professional as neutral problem solver is now obsolete. A new ideal of a more engaged, civic professionalism must take its place. Such an ideal understands, as a purely technical professionalism does not, that professionals are inescapably moral agents whose work depends upon public trust for its success. Since professional schools are the portals to professional life, they bear much of the responsibility for the reliable formation in their students of integrity of professional purpose and identity. In addition to enabling students to become competent practitioners, professional schools always must provide ways to induct students into the distinctive habits of mind that define the domain of a lawyer, a physician, nurse, engineer, or teacher. However, the basic knowledge of a professional domain must be revised and recast as conditions change. Today, that means that the definition of basic knowledge must be expanded to include an understanding of the moral and social ecology within which students will practice. A new civic awareness within professional preparation could go a long way toward awakening awareness that the authentic spirit of each professional domain represents more than a body of knowledge or skills. Its future worth will depend in large measure on how well professional culture gets reshaped to answer the needs of our time.
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 51 Vista Lane, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-566-5102; Fax: 650-326-0278; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Menlo Park, CA.
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A