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Moral Courage, Digital Distrust: Ethics in a Troubled World

February 7, 2005

WALTHAM, Mass. - Dr. Rushworth M. Kidder asked the audience Monday at Wilder Pavilion why they were in attendance for his lecture, then he jokingly answered his own question: "Probably in part because Martha Stewart is in Camp Cupcake and Major League Baseball is riddled with steroid problems."

Dr. Kidder's lecture, "Moral Courage, Digital Distrust: Ethics in a Troubled World," kicked off his week-long stay at Bentley as the Verizon Visiting Professor in Business Ethics and Information Technology, presented by the Center for Business Ethics through the generous support of Verizon Communications. The founder and president of the Institute for Global Ethics, Dr. Kidder's lecture focused on three key areas: what moral courage is; why it matters so much; and the question of information technology and the way ethics and IT intersect.

"There are so many scandals out there today," he said. "Somewhere behind closed doors, there were individuals who could've spoken up and done the right thing, but ultimately didn't."

Dr. Kidder noted the five core shared values in every culture are honesty, responsibility, respect, fairness and compassion. He then posed the question, "Why do ethics matter now if they haven't ever mattered in the past?"

"Because of the relationship of technology to the rest of the world," said Kidder. "We're moving into an age where our technology leverages our ethics in ways we've never seen before. Things simply could not have happened 20, 30 years ago. The capacity for mayhem has increased in so many ways."

Dr. Kidder warned of innovation crumbling due to public mistrust, and issued a challenge to the audience on what America can do to rebuild public trust. He proposed building an ethical futurism structure to look over the horizon as new technologies are developed.

"We must begin right now to take charge of the ethics of our technologies if we want this sense of innovation to continue," he said.

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit

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