Concentrations to be added: ethics and Latin American studies

Jacqueline Condon, Staff Writer


The University of Dallas will soon offer a new concentration in ethics through the philosophy department.

Associate professor of philosophy Dr. Lance Simmons, who will serve as director of the new concentration, said that while many UD students have already taken courses in ethics, the department wanted a new focus on the concrete practice of ethical theory.

“Many UD students care a lot about moral issues,” Simmons said. “In fact, Ethics has always been one of the philosophy department’s more popular courses.  Still, that course is mostly about ethical theory, and the department thought it might be good to encourage students to take some more practically-oriented ethics courses as well.  That led us to propose the ethics concentration.”

The concentration requires only a few courses, including Ethics, two additional philosophy courses and at least one course in theology or politics, expanding the interdisciplinary nature of the program.

Possible courses may include Bioethics or Business Ethics, for example.

The program is designed to accommodate a range of interests.

According to Simmons, students can study the ethical dimensions of a variety of topics, such as marriage, Catholic social teaching, bioethics, politics, business and emerging information technologies.

Dr. Simmons has high hopes for the new program.

“So far we have a few students in the ethics concentration,” Simmons wrote in an email. “As awareness of it grows there likely will be more.”

He added that he recommends the program to anyone interested in moral theory and in how it applies to specific practical domains.

“We hope students in the ethics concentration gain deep knowledge of ethical issues and how rival moral theories understand them,” Simmons said. “An informed appreciation of the moral dimensions of the contemporary world is a good first step toward engaging practical problems and issues of urgent importance.”

The new concentration promises to help students bridge the UD Bubble and the world beyond, applying the values of the university and lessons of the Core to practical problems.

Other departments on campus have also proposed new concentrations that would broaden the focus of the Core curriculum.

A proposed Latin American studies concentration would expand the area of study of the Western world, both topically and geographically.

While the concentration is not yet officially approved, the history department will offer a course on Latin America next semester, taught by history professor Dr. Mark Petersen, a specialist in Latin American studies focusing on regional cooperation within the Americas, pan-Americanism and inter-American history.

Promotional materials for Petersen’s course have emphasized a new perspective on the Core and dialogue with the Western Catholic tradition.

Petersen currently teaches courses focusing on modern Latin America and inter-American relations.

Other Latin American specialists among UD faculty include Dr. Jose Espericueta of the modern languages department and Dr. Carla Pezzia, assistant professor of human sciences in the contemporary world.

In a previous interview with the University News, Espericueta said that Latin American studies are of particular interest to UD students, given the geographical proximity of Latin America to Texas as well as Latin America’s unique contributions to the Western tradition.

“There is a long tradition [in Latin America] with the West that we don’t always recognize but that is present and important,” Espericueta said. “Colonialism shows us how the Western tradition is when it comes into contact with other diverse cultures. This contact [between the West and Latin America] lead to the first appearances of modernity. Its history is not well-known, but it is instructive to us as Catholics, Americans and human persons.”

Espericueta and Petersen have both previously expressed their hopes to spread the word about Latin America to students regardless of their major, just as Simmons hopes to welcome students of all departments into the ethics concentration.


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