Suppose that your basic survival needs have already been met. You have enough food to be healthy. You are protected from the elements and have enough clothes to keep you warm next winter - even though they might not be as trendy as you would like. Your education and medical bills are paid. Is it morally wrong for you to accept luxury items such as CDs, hipper clothes, an iPod, or a smart phone as a gift from your parents when the money could be donated to provide famine relief to those living in absolute poverty? Why or why not? Defend your answer against possible objections.
That is one of the questions students in a recent Ethics course taught by Dr. Mary Lyn Stoll
were asked to answer in their final paper, and an example of how she challenges her students "to evaluate their own everyday morality," as former student Jessica L. Jones '08
Stoll, assistant professor of philosophy, is the 2010-2011 H. Lee Cooper Core Curriculum Teaching Award winner. Focusing exclusively on teaching, the Cooper award honors a USI faculty member whose work in University Core
courses has been especially creative and successful in furthering UCC goals.
Jones holds a Bachelor of Science degree in philosophy from USI. "Dr. Stoll arrived at USI during my sophomore year while I still had an undecided major," she said. "After taking my first course with her, I was inspired and excited about dedicating my undergraduate career to philosophy."
Each semester, Stoll teaches between 80 and 100 students in two to three sections of Introduction to Ethics, a course that fulfills part of the Core Curriculum under "The Self." Dr. Julie Evey
, former interim chair of the Department of Philosophy
, said, "One concern of students in an Ethics course is that they will be told what to think. Dr. Stoll encourages the students to think for themselves, but to use the appropriate information as well as make valid arguments. Class sessions are devoted to working through the readings and developing critical thinking and analysis skills. She is demanding in the classroom, but truly cares about students' understanding of the material."
In addition to introductory ethics, she teaches introduction to philosophy, contemporary philosophy, political and legal philosophy, and logic and critical thinking.
Stoll's research interests include ethics, applied ethics, and social and political philosophy. She is especially interested in corporations and free speech rights, globalization, the environment, and business ethics. She has published several articles in business ethics on marketing ethics and on corporations and free speech rights.
Stoll's involvement extends outside of the classroom, as advisor for the Philosophy Club and Vegetarian Club, and coach for the Ethics Bowl Team. She has served on the Core Curriculum Assessment Committee, Gender Studies Committee, Philosophy Program Review Committee, and the Working Group for Nationally Competitive Scholarships, and served as an alternate representative for the College of Liberal Arts to the Faculty Senate.
Jones served as president of the Philosophy Club for two years. "Dr. Stoll helped us bring The Vagina Monologues
to USI for the first time, and over the past three years, the club has raised over $1,400 for a local women's shelter," she said.
Stoll joined the University in fall 2005. She received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Purdue University in 2002. Her dissertation dealt with moral obligation in a global economy focusing on the environment, the poor, and ways in which businesses can help or hinder us in meeting moral obligations. Stoll taught at Minnesota State University-Mankato and at Muskingum College before joining USI.
The Cooper award is named in honor of H. Lee Cooper, a long-time friend and supporter of USI. The award was officially presented at the Fall Faculty and Administrative Staff Meeting on August 23. It includes a generous stipend, a plaque, and additional monies for travel and related faculty development.
As this year's winner, Stoll will deliver a presentation to the University community during the 2010-2011 academic year. Details will be released at a later date.