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Funds will support a yearlong project to expand and study undergraduate ethics education.

Logo with a gold star that says The Program for Leadership and Character.The Educating Character Initiative, part of Wake Forest University’s Program for Leadership and Character, has announced that UNC-Chapel Hill’s Parr Center for Ethics was one of 411 nationwide recipients of their new Capacity-Building grants. The Parr Center for Ethics is in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The $33,129 grant will fund the 2024-25 “From Theory to Practice: Building Communities for Ethical Deliberation at the Nation’s Oldest Public University” project, led by Michael Vazquez, Parr Center Outreach Director and Teaching Assistant Professor of Philosophy, and Michael Prinzing, Parr Center Consulting Research Scientist. The project will expand the capacity and scope of the Center’s “Parr Heel” undergraduate ethics program – led by Parr Center Undergraduate Programming Director Vanessa Moore – to include graduate mentors, undergraduate assessment fellows and a slate of “Thinking and Talking about Virtue” character development lectures. Secondly, the project will research the impact of the Center’s pedagogy and programming on undergraduates. The Parr Center staff are enthusiastic about launching this project, especially at a moment in which universities are reckoning with the value of the humanities.

The mission of the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University is to inspire, educate, and empower leaders of character to serve humanity. Through innovative teaching, creative programming, and cutting-edge research, the Program aims to transform the lives of students, foster an inclusive culture of leadership and character, and catalyze a broader public conversation that places character at the center of leadership.

Since 2017, the Program has been advancing this mission primarily at Wake Forest, but in recent years many colleges and universities have reached out to solicit advice and share ideas about how to educate character in a university context. Inspired by a motto of Pro Humanitate (for humanity) and supported through a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Program has developed the Educating Character Initiative to support a wider community of individuals and institutions to educate character within colleges and universities. Through the creation of a network of interested institutions and educators, the development and dissemination of research and resources, the organization of conferences and convenings, and the direct awarding of grants to individuals and institutions interested in advancing this work in their own contexts, the Program aspires to nurture a creative, compassionate, and collaborative community of educators who can learn from each other as partners in character education.

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