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Abramoff Talks Behavioral Ethics in Documentary Premiere

Thursday, November 15, 4 p.m.
Belo Center for New Media (BMC) 5.102
Followed by Q & A with Mimi Drumwright (Dept. of Advertising) and Robert Prentice (Dept. of Business, Government & Society)

The premiere of In It To Win, the 25-minute documentary of the Jack Abramoff story produced during his on-campus visit, celebrates the introduction of the new Ethics Unwrapped video series and learning tools. Featuring disgraced lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff, this documentary explores the internal biases and external pressures he faced—and to which we’re all susceptible—as well as the consequences of his unethical decision-making.

The Ethics Unwrapped series is an excellent resource for explaining key concepts in ethics and engaging students in discussions about ethical issues, and provides a platform for fostering meaningful discussions in the classroom. In addition to the longer documentary, which is accompanied by teaching materials developed by UT Austin faculty, shorter “concepts unwrapped” videos cover basic concepts in ethics education, business ethics, and the new field of behavioral ethics. Six shorter videos also supplement In It To Win, using Abramoff’s story to illustrate ideas in behavioral ethics.

Jess Miner, Ph.D., a senior program coordinator and curriculum specialist in this school’s Center for the Core Curriculum, acted as a consultant on the series. Dr. Miner oversees the Ethics and Leadership flag, which aims to equip every undergraduate with skills necessary for making ethical decisions in their adult and professional lives. Courses carrying the ethics flag expose students to ethical issues and to the process of applying ethical reasoning in real-life situations. Ethics Unwrapped Project Director Cara Biasucci called Dr. Miner “an integral part of developing this series,” going on to say that

Jess advised, consulted, and is helping to distribute. She is also guiding the development of teaching materials so we offer robust and useful tools for the classroom. I couldn’t have done this without her support and guidance.

About Behavioral Ethics

The behavioral approach to ethics uses the tools of psychology and related fields to understand why people decide and act as they do when facing ethical issues. Teaching a behavioral understanding of ethics can alert students to the organizational pressures and psychological biases that commonly cause well-intentioned people to act unethically. Concepts Unwrapped, the first series of Ethics Unwrapped, illuminates ethical concepts by sharing real-life examples from teachers and students, whose stories display both wisdom and humor.

About Jess Miner

Jess Miner joined the Center for the Core Curriculum in September 2010 from the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where she was an assistant professor in the Department of Classics. While in Charleston, Dr. Miner served on the college-wide Academic Planning Committee and on the Steering Committee for Women’s and Gender Studies. In addition to teaching courses in Greek, Latin, and Classical Civilization, she gained experience in curriculum development through her work with the First-Year Experience program and by designing interdisciplinary courses with the departments of Theatre and Communication. She received her A.B. in Classics from Smith College and her Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006 with a research emphasis in Greek oratory and comedy; she is a currently a lecturer for the Classics Department.

In her role as a curriculum specialist for UGS, Dr. Miner oversees the flags in Ethics and Leadership, Cultural Diversity in the United States, Global Cultures, and Quantitative Reasoning. She works with faculty across campus on teaching and curriculum development in these areas.

About Project Director Cara Biasucci

Cara Biasucci received a M.F.A. in film and media production from The University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in philosophy from Bowdoin College. In 2000, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation supported Nascendo no Brasil, her first documentary, which was broadcast on national public television and recognized by the Latin American Studies Association with a Merit in Film award.

As a writer, producer, director and editor, Cara has created content for clients such as American Public Television, Discovery, DIY Network, HGTV, IntraHealth International, Johns Hopkins Medicine, New England Patriots, National Gallery of Art, Sterling Publishing, and The U.S. EPA. Before joining McCombs School of Business, Cara taught media production at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In It To Win: The Jack Abramoff Story

See the movie at the November 15 premiere or watch online.

Written by: 
Julia Moskow Ferguson