Presented within this section of the Donchian Foundation website is three summary reports describing the objectives and impact of programs funded by the foundation's directors. They are (1) the AmeriCares Pediatric Healthcare Reform Initiative, (2) the National Book Scholarship Fund, and (3) the Institute for Practical Ethics.

3. Ethics – The Institute for Practical Ethics


In November 1998, the Richard D. Donchian Foundation awarded the University of Virginia's Working Group on Ethics a sizable grant for the development of several programs envisioned as key components of UVA's emerging Institute for Practical Ethics. The initiative was university-wide, focused on real-world, practical problems and choices, and meant to serve as a model that could be replicated in other universities.

A major focus of the Donchian Foundation's initial grant was on the development of a series of summer internships in practical ethics for undergraduates. By design, each student was required to spend two months as an intern in a professional or public setting where he or she could gain exposure to concrete problems experienced by practitioners. At the conclusion of each internship, students were asked to provide a narrative report of their experiences, and through reflective analysis and interaction with other interns and faculty, assess what they had learned about practical ethics.

Similar internships were then offered during the academic year and augmented by a sustained, concurrent seminar conducted by an ethicist/practitioner.

As a result of the Donchian Foundation grant, the University of Virginia formally established The Institute for Practical Ethics in November, 2000. The Institute's Advisory Committee consists of faculty in Ethics from every school at the University. The Institute also created a National Advisory Board that includes among others, representatives from the Donchian Foundation.

Support from the Donchian Foundation has also enabled the institute (1) to create a new interdisciplinary course on environmental decision-making involving a dozen faculty from various schools and departments, (2) to sponsor with the School of Architecture a major national symposium on ethics and aesthetics in architecture, (3) to develop a program on ethics and international relations that will ensure attention to issues in global ethics in courses and internships, and (4) to establish a series of inter-professional seminars on values.

Each inter-professional seminar within the series involves a two-person team of faculty and a dozen students from two or three schools in a year-long examination of ethical choices in professional and personal life. This examination is stimulated by major works of literature, history, etc., that the participants in the seminar read and discuss under the tutelage of the two instructors, who host these sessions in their homes.

The Institute for Practical ethics now offers and/or sponsors a number of courses in Ethics, including "Ethics and Integrity in Contemporary Life," "Choices in the 21st Century: War, Human Rights, and Justice," and "Environmental Choices in the 21st Century." In addition, the Institute is helping to develop new interdisciplinary majors, such as Human Biology, and new graduate concentrations, such as Public Health. Both feature and incorporate into their design the importance of ethics and ethical behavior.

Through its publications, conferences and lectures, as well as through the research that supports these activities, the Institute for Practical Ethics has set a new standard of excellence that has already been adopted in academic and professional settings throughout the country.