Every person must make ethical decisions throughout their lives. Small decisions like choosing to recycle, living more efficiently or choosing products produced ethically are all fairly easy and do not typically keep people up at night. The ethical decisions that are much harder are those ones that have huge impacts on our lives or require one to take a stand, often with some risk or consequence involved.
One of the major responsibilities of higher education is to provide students with the means to examine their own ethics and challenge the accepted ethics held by our society. As a society, we need to have open and respectful discussions about the ethical code that we hold. We need to consider not only the people in our society but also people around the world. Furthermore, we need to examine how our (un)ethical practices affect the ecosystems and the global environment.
Maybe I am just being too optimistic, but I believe that most people are decent at the core. The differences between people are insignificant when compared with the similarities. We all want to feel respected and have a hope for a better future. There is a growing opinion that people from different cultures and opposing political views are fundamentally different from each other. I think that society needs to disrupt those viewpoints and create a forum in which all people can actually have their voices heard and feel that they have some control over the future of the ethical code that our society holds.
As students in higher education, we need to demand a change in the way students are taught and dismantle the elitist views that can separate us from less educated people. Our educated viewpoints are no more or less important than those from uneducated people. We also need to find innovative ways to show all members of society the lessons and results of the work that is done in higher education. I do not think that college is the right life decision for all people, but I do believe that all people should benefit from the work that is done at universities and I think that academic institutions need to do a better job of spreading the knowledge that they discover and promoting the impacts that they have on society as a whole.