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Learning Communities Guiding Principles

Learning Communities Guiding Principles

CAS Statement of Shared Ethical Principles

The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) has served as a voice for quality assurance and promulgation of standards in higher education for over twenty five years. CAS was established to promote inter-association efforts to address quality assurance, student learning, and professional integrity. It was believed that a single voice would have greater impact on the evaluation and improvement of services and programs than would many voices speaking for special interests by individual practitioners or by single-interest organizations.

CAS includes membership of over 35 active professional associations and has established standards in over 30 functional areas. It has succeeded in providing a platform through which representatives from across higher education can jointly develop and promulgate standards of good practice that are endorsed not just by those working in a particular area, but by representatives of higher education association.

CAS often cites George Washington, who said, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.” CAS has raised standards; it is now time to focus on the attributes, such as wisdom and honesty, of those professionals who would use the standards. Professionals working to provide services in higher education share more than a commitment to quality assurance and standards of practice. A review of the ethical statements of member associations demonstrates clearly that there are elements of ethical principles and values that are shared across the professions in higher education.

Most of the member associations represented in CAS are guided by ethical codes of professional practice enforced through the prescribed channels of its association. CAS acknowledges and respects the individual codes and standards of ethical conduct of their organizations. From these codes, CAS has created a statement of shared ethical principles that focuses on seven basic principles that form the foundation for CAS member association codes: autonomy, non-malfeasance, beneficence, justice, fidelity, veracity, and affiliation. This statement is not intended to replace or supplant the code of ethics of any professional association; rather, it is intended to articulate those shared ethical principles. It is our
hope that by articulating those shared beliefs, CAS can promulgate a better understanding of the professions of those in service to students and higher education.

Principle I – Autonomy

We take responsibility for our actions and both support and empower an individual’s and group’s freedom of choice.
x We strive for quality and excellence in the work that we do
x We respect one’s freedom of choice
x We believe that individuals, ourselves and others, are responsible for their own behavior and learning
x We promote positive change in individuals and in society through education
x We foster an environment where people feel empowered to make decisions
x We hold ourselves and others accountable
x We study, discuss, investigate, teach, conduct research, and publish freely within the academic community
x We engage in continuing education and professional development

Principle II – Non-Malfeasance

We pledge to do no harm.
x We collaborate with others for the good of those whom we serve
x We interact in ways that promote positive outcomes
x We create environments that are educational and supportive of the growth and development of the whole person
x We exercise role responsibilities in a manner that respects the rights and property of others without exploiting or abusing power

Principle III – Beneficence

We engage in altruistic attitudes and actions that promote goodness and contribute to the health and welfare of others.
x We treat others courteously
x We consider the thoughts and feelings of others
x We work toward positive and beneficial outcomes

Principle IV – Justice

We actively promote human dignity and endorse equality and fairness for everyone.
x We treat others with respect and fairness, preserving their dignity, honoring their differences, promoting their welfare
x We recognize diversity and embrace a cross-cultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts
x We eliminate barriers that impede student learning and development or discriminate against full
participation by all students
x We extend fundamental fairness to all persons
x We operate within the framework of laws and policies
x We respect the rights of individuals and groups to express their opinions
x We assess students in a valid, open, and fair manner and one consistent with learning objectives
x We examine the influence of power on the experience of diversity to reduce marginalization and foster community

Principle V – Fidelity

We are faithful to an obligation, trust, or duty.
x We maintain confidentiality of interactions, student records, and information related to legal and private matters
x We avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof
x We honor commitments made within the guidelines of established policies and procedures
x We demonstrate loyalty and commitment to institutions that employ us
x We exercise good stewardship of resources

Principle VI – Veracity

We seek and convey the truth in our words and actions.
x We act with integrity and honesty in all endeavors and interactions
x We relay information accurately
x We communicate all relevant facts and information while respecting privacy and confidentiality

Principle VII – Affiliation

We actively promote connected relationships among all people and foster community.
x We create environments that promote connectivity
x We promote authenticity, mutual empathy, and engagement within human interactions
When professionals act in accordance with ethical principles, program quality and excellence are  enhanced and ultimately students are better served. As professionals providing services in higher education, we are committed to upholding these shared ethical principles, for the benefit of our students, our professions, and higher education.
Some concepts for this code were taken from:
Kitchner, K. 1985). Ethical principles and ethical decisions in student affairs. In H. Canon & R. Brown (Eds.), Applied ethics in student services (New Directions in Student Services, No. 30, pp. 17-30). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Council for the Advancement of Standards. (2006). CAS professional standards for higher education (6th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.