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VERITIES Initiative

Virtue-Based Education for Responsibility and Integrity To Increase Excellence in STEM.


A Virtue-based Approach to Cultivating an Ethical Research Culture

Stemming from an innovative model developed as part of the BEACON Science and Technology Center, VERITIES is an institutional transformation Initiative that expands this novel vocational virtue approach across the university.

"…a fresh framework for addressing aspects of conducting science ethically, while also more effectively conveying scientific values to students and the public. The virtue ethics approach builds on a long philosophical tradition and provides a welcome contrast to the compliance-focused approach to RCR training used by virtually every other organization."

— BEACON NSF Site Visit Report 2017


Reconceiving RCR (Responsible Conduct of Research) Training

In contrast to the usual compliance model that focuses on rules and regulations, VERITIES begins with an exploration of the values and character virtues that underlie ethical practice so that responsible conduct is recognized as an internal good.

"…an innovative, promising way to train researchers in the responsible conduct of scientific research. This approach promises to be a significant improvement over current RCR training methods.”.

— BEACON NSF Site Visit Report 2018 


Identity, Purpose, Excellence, Integrity

Conceiving of responsible conduct in relation to the purposes and values that constitute a vocation, VERITIES focuses on the identity, character, and distinctive mindset of practitioners and their contribution to human flourishing.

"Values are the sinews that hold the flesh and bones of a culture together and give it integrity."

— An Instinct for Truth: Curiosity and the Moral Structure of Science


Facilitated Dialogues about Values

VERITIES sessions are guided discussions centered on core virtues, enabling participants to explore how they should be embodied in research practice. An assessment study of VERITIES workshops showed that the vast majority of participants found it to be valuable and preferable to other kinds of ethics training they had experienced.

"The exercise was much more motivating than traditional RCR. It made me want to be a better scientist immediately."

— Scientific Virtues Toolbox Participant


Validated Method & Materials

VERITIES is rooted in a vocational virtue-theoretic approach with over three decades of theoretical and empirical development. The relevance of the philosophical content has been corroborated by a national study of over a thousand researchers.

"Very interesting survey. Made me think about my profession in terms of values and ethics."

— Scientific Virtues Survey Participant 


How to Participate

VERITIES is helping colleges and departments fulfill MSU's mandate to provide RCR training for all graduate students.

Students in partnering units can find available VERITIES sessions on the workshop registration page.

Unit administrators can email the VERITIES team for information about becoming partners.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. #2024238.

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