2013 Education Leadership Conference: Ethics and Education

This year attendees discussed ethics in the context of teaching, clinical supervision, administration and training in research ethics, and innovations in the teaching of ethics.

By Rebecca A. Clay

The theme of the twelfth annual Education Leadership Conference (ELC) — ethics and education — is a very serious one, Cynthia D. Belar, PhD, told participants.

“I hope during the process you’ll reflect not only on your own behavior but also on the behavior of the organizations you represent,” said Belar, executive director of APA’s Education Directorate. “Ask yourself, ‘How can I promote attention to ethical issues in my own educational activities? What can I do to promote attention to ethics in the organization I represent? And what might APA do to promote ethical practice in education?’”

Held Sep. 28-Oct. 1, in Washington, D.C., the 2013 ELC brought together more than 150 representatives from psychology education and training organizations, APA governance, APA divisions and other psychology groups. The event’s mission was threefold: to address issues related to education and training at all levels, promote a shared identity among psychology’s educators and influence public policy.

Panelists engage ELC attendees during their Sunday morning session, “Conversations About Ethics and Education.” Left to right: Barbara Stanley, PhD; Carol Falender, PhD; Maureen A. McCarthy, PhD; and R. Eric Landrum, PhD


Panelists engage ELC attendees during their Sunday morning session, “Conversations About Ethics and Education.” Left to right: Barbara Stanley, PhD; Carol Falender, PhD; Maureen A. McCarthy, PhD; and R. Eric Landrum, PhD

“The ELC is a wonderful opportunity for us to get together as leaders in education and learn from each other and then have the content of our discussions advise APA and its Board of Educational Affairs,” said BEA Chair Celiane Rey-Casserly, PhD.

Belar kicked off the discussion with a review of the basic principles underlying APA’s Ethics Code and the potential pitfalls for educators associated with each. The principle of beneficence and nonmaleficence, for instance, requires psychologists to benefit those they work with and do no harm, yet flunking students could be seen as harming them, while passing them inappropriately could be seen as harmful to the public, she said. Educators who fail to respond appropriately to colleagues’ misconduct violate the principle of fidelity and responsibility, while those who take advantage of their power over students to seize authorship credit violate the principle of fairness and justice. Programs themselves can violate the principles, said Belar, citing programs that fail to alert prospective students of the realities they face as they promote their programs. Integrity requires truth in advertising. And upholding the principle of respect for people’s rights and dignity can be difficult when the value of diversity clashes with different value systems, she said.

For more details about the 2013 ELC, see the complete issue of the Educator (PDF, 2.56MB). Highlights include: 

  • Temptation restrained: enhancing an ethical culture in the academy
  • Conversations about ethics and education
  • A mirror on ethics training: Reflections from an early career psychologist
  • When diversities clash: Sexual orientation, religious beliefs, professional ethics, and the U.S. Constitution
  • Innovations in teaching ethics
  • Open forum
  • Education Advocacy Awards Luncheon
  • Final plenary — White House Mental Health Initiative: Partnering to raise awareness on college campuses
  • Legislative issues