YSU professor co-directs National Endowment for the Humanities grant

Deborah Mower


The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a $155,747 grant to establish a summer institute on moral psychology, co-directed and managed by Deborah Mower, professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University. “This is a tremendous example of the kind of collaborative research being done here at YSU by our faculty,” said Martin Abraham, YSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “The NEH is a prestigious federal source of funding for scholars in the humanities, and this recognition speaks volumes about the quality of our faculty.” Bruce Waller, chair of the YSU Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, said the grant is a significant accomplishment. “For a YSU faculty member to be selected as the co-director of such an Institute is a remarkable accomplishment, and a very clear indication of the very high status that Deborah has achieved in our profession,” he said. The grant was among several announced earlier this summer by the NEH. “These grant projects represent the very best of humanities scholarship and programming,” NEH Chairman William Adams said. The four-week long Summer Institute for College and University Teachers on “Moral Psychology and Education” will give 25 scholars from around the nation the opportunity to study the moral psychology behind effective moral education with 17 internationally recognized faculty. Mower will co-direct the institute with Phyllis Vandenberg, professor of Philosophy at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. The institute will be held in June 2016 at Grand Valley State University. In addition to co-directing the Institute and managing the grant project, Mower is also one of the faculty experts for her work in ethics and moral psychology. As the current president of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum, Mower works with directors of ethics centers nationally and internationally to integrate ethics within courses and university curricula. “A degree is a consequence, but not the purpose of a university education, which is to prepare students to become responsible professionals in their fields,” Mower said. “A crucial part of developing our students into the next generation of professionals is their ethical development and capacity for leadership. This Institute is an exciting opportunity for scholars to expand our knowledge on the psychology behind moral development and the effective teaching and learning of ethics.” The focus of the Institute is on moral psychology—an interdisciplinary field that studies the psychological processes behind the development of moral skills and reasoning—and moral education, which integrates the best practices of educational theory with the study of ethics. Mower and Vandenberg designed the Institute to examine how specific areas of the humanities can enhance the development of moral skills and reasoning, an approach that is highly interdisciplinary and innovative.