Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Ethics of Academia Podcast (Episode 1 with Sven Nyholm)

I have been reflecting on the ethics of academic life for some time. I've written several articles about it over the years. These have focused on the ethics of grading, student-teacher relationships, academic career choice, and the value of teaching (among other things). I've only scratched the surface. It seems to me that academic life is replete with ethical dilemmas and challenges. Some systematic reflection on and discussion of those ethical challenges would seem desirable. Obviously, there is a fair bit of writing available on the topic but, as best I can tell, there is no podcast dedicated to it. So I decided to start one.

I'm launching this podcast as both an addendum to my normal podcast (which deals primarily with the ethics of technology) and as an independent podcast in its own right. If you just want to subscribe to the Ethics of Academia, you can do so here (Apple and Spotify). (And if you do so, you'll get the added bonus of access to the first three episodes). I intend this to be a limited series but, if it proves popular, I might come back to it.

In the first episode, I chat to Sven Nyholm (Utrecht University) about the ethics of research, teaching and administration. Sven is a longtime friend and collaborator. He has been one of my most frequent guests on my main podcast so he seemed like the ideal person to kickstart this series. Although we talk about a lot of different things, Sven draws particular attention to the ethical importance of the division of labour in academic life.

You can download the episode here or listen below.


  1. Not a subject on which I have given much thought. On the other hand, I have thought a lot about things we did not learn in school---not because we failed to pay attention, but, because they were things older people did not want us to know. Yet. Or, if ever. I guess that is an ethical matter, isn't it?

    1. Sure. The choice of what gets taught is, to my mind, an inherently ethical one. It's a question of what knowledge is valuable, do you trust people to understand it and appreciate it (and or make their own decisions as to what it means or why it is valuable). Some subjects have lower stakes than others. Some are more politically and socially contentious.