Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Richard Miller
Director, Poynter Center

Last modified: Monday, October 1, 2012

Poynter Center at IU Bloomington celebrates 40th anniversary Oct. 10 to 12

Oct. 1, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions will mark 40 years of examining ethical and political issues in American public life with a three-day symposium exploring humanitarianism and human rights.

The symposium takes place Oct. 10 to 12 at the Indiana Memorial Union on the IU Bloomington campus. It will include keynote addresses by David Alan Crocker, senior research scholar at the University of Maryland Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy; Diane Orentlicher, professor of international law at American University; and Sumner B. Twiss, distinguished professor of human rights, ethics and religion at Florida State University; along with panel discussions and breakout sessions.

Also scheduled during the symposium is a 40th anniversary reception on Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Poynter Center, 618 E. Third St.

The Poynter Center was formed when IU Chancellor Herman B Wells reached an agreement with IU alumnus Nelson Poynter in 1972. In the wake of the Watergate break-in, the late Poynter, chairman of the board of the Times Publishing Co. and publisher of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, was concerned about declining trust in public institutions. Poynter's gift in 1972, along with a second gift in 1976, endowed the center and established it in perpetuity. The Poynter Center also receives support from federal and private foundations and from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington.

The center's current director is Richard B. Miller, Provost Professor of religious studies at IU Bloomington. He was preceded by David H. Smith, IU Bloomington professor emeritus of religious studies, who served as director from 1982 until his retirement in 2003. The founding director was the late William Lee Miller, who served from 1972 to 1982.

Over the decades, the Poynter Center has attracted scholars from around the world to study political and social issues including medical ethics and bioethics; professional ethics; political ethics; privacy issues; death and dying; research ethics; moral and political psychology; and teaching ethics in the sciences and humanities.

"The Poynter Center provides a unique venue at IU for critically analyzing society's most pressing ethical questions," Miller said. "Our inquiry regularly examines such questions in both theory and practice. Whether the topic under scrutiny is health care, scientific research, politics or religion, the Poynter Center takes an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to asking hard questions about why humans -- as individuals or in groups -- act as we do. Our aim is to transform how scholars and students interpret human behavior so that they can identify its morally relevant dimensions and implications."

Maria Bucur-Deckard, the John W. Hill Chair of European History and associate dean for international programs in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, said the Poynter Center's commitment to interdisciplinary study is a model for others.

"I have learned to think of my own work in a more interdisciplinary fashion as a direct result of my participation in various activities organized by the Poynter Center," Bucur-Deckard said. "The seminar on memory was a boon for my work, and the workshop with (novelist) Tim O'Brien turned out to be one of the most memorable intellectual feasts I've had the privilege of taking part in over my 16 years at IU."

The Poynter Center also sponsors teams for the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition. The Ethics Bowl, presented annually by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, involves groups of undergraduate students from around the country in deliberating about difficult ethical cases and controversies. IU teams won the national competition in 2004 and 2009.

Housed in a three-story clapboard building near IU's Maurer School of Law, the Poynter Center regularly hosts lectures, workshops, seminars and roundtables centered on contemporary ethical issues. The Health Care Ethics and Teaching Research Ethics seminars are among the center's longest-running programs. The Teaching Research Ethics program, directed by Kenneth Pimple, associate research scientist and scholar, has drawn hundreds of participants from around the country and the world to undertake training in teaching research ethics or administering a research program.

"The Poynter Center's reputation for ethics education and research is outstanding, and we congratulate the faculty, staff and students associated with the Poynter Center on four decades of excellence," said Sarita Soni, vice provost for research at IU Bloomington. "The center's research programs and workshops make a real contribution to moral and ethical insights on our campus, in our community and in the country at large."

About OVPR

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University Bloomington is dedicated to supporting ongoing faculty research and creative activity, developing new multidisciplinary initiatives and maximizing the potential of faculty to accomplish path-breaking work.