Center for Ethics and Human Values

The Center for Ethics and Human Values encourages research and facilitates public discussion on a wide range of foundational and applied moral questions that connect the research, teaching, and other work pursued at Ohio State. Recognizing that moral disagreements can easily become hostile and counterproductive, our work is to foster thoughtful conversations that promote free thought, reason, understanding, and tolerance. Only by deeply engaging the values that unite us – and divide us – as human beings and as members of local, national, and global communities, can we productively work toward our common goals.


COMPAS is a series of year-long conversations on morality, politics, and society. It seeks to model the sort of informed, civil discussion of complex issues that is too often absent from public discourse and that universities are in a unique position to promote. The program usually consists of two conferences, one in the fall and one in the spring, along with a wide variety of other events and activities scattered throughout the year. The COMPAS Program has been honored to have hosted world-class speakers, for example, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Special Envoy with the U.N., and Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. In addition to lectures, the COMPAS program sponsors a photography contest and teaches a semester-long class exploring that year’s theme. For further information, feel free to explore each of the previous themes: Immigration (2011-12), Public/Private (2013-14), Sustainability (2015-16), Inequality (2016-17), and Religion in Public Life (2017-18). Check out COMPAS events for this academic year, which will center around the theme of Technology


An annual ETHOS Address will sponsor a distinguished member of the faculty to deliver a public lecture to the incoming class of students and the larger OSU community discussing the ethical and value considerations that motivate them, as well as the professional challenges they face. The ancient Greeks used the term “ethos” to describe both the guiding values that characterize a community and the individual character traits that underwrite claims to expertise. ETHOS (ETHics at Ohio State) combines these two meanings: first, it is a forum for OSU scholars to reflect upon the ethical questions that attracted them to and confront them within their disciplines; and second, this process of reflection will help to define the values of the OSU community more broadly. 

Fellowship Program

In addition to OSU’s core ethics faculty in a number of departments, the Center will develop a pre- and post-doctoral fellowship program for promising graduate students and recent PhDs doing significant new work on topics related to the work of the Center. Fellows will come from a variety of disciplines to foster an active and engaged interdisciplinary community of researchers and organizers. These fellows will not only teach related courses offered by cooperating departments, but will take an active role in organizing and guiding the Center programs each year.