Propose an Inquiry

The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University is dedicated both to examining the ethical practices of professionals in specific fields like coexistence and international justice, and to advancing dialogue on the ethical issues that shape society at large.

Since 2009 the Ethics Center has published "Ethical Inquiry," a regular website feature in which we call attention to the ethical dimensions of a wide range of issues with implications that may be personal, political, or even global. Our intent is to illuminate and explore the complexity of some of the most vexing ethical questions of our time.

Each installment points readers toward resources that reflect a range of thoughtful viewpoints from academia, advocacy organizations, and "popular" media. You can find the complete series here.

We are now seeking proposals from Brandeis University graduate students, alumni, and undergraduates who wish to contribute to the Ethical Inquiry Series.

Who may apply

Brandeis University students and alumni from any school and from any field are eligible.


These are not original essays. Rather, each inquiry is a kind of sophisticated aggregator, introducing the reader to selected sources for well-considered perspectives on a particular question of ethics, with minimal descriptions of the selections, and providing the reader with the resources to explore many aspects of the question or perspective in greater depth. We encourage students to consult with faculty members on recommended texts to include in the piece.

Please look at the previous versions of "Ethical Inquiry," as all Ethical Inquiries follow a general template. Best examples of the template: "Should Identity Affect Legal Decisions?""Does New Technology Require a New Ethics?""Proportionality in the Context of Armed Conflict""Is It Ethical to Eat Animals?"


  • Approximately 1,000 words.
  • Approximately 30 publications/articles/websites cited and linked.
  • A broad range of publications should be cited and linked, including material from the popular press (e.g. The New York Times, Newsweek, The Economist), accessible work from the field (e.g. journal articles – though subscription-only journal articles should be included sparingly), and legitimate online sources (e.g., The Huffington Post).
  • A range of perspectives on the question should be represented.
  • The Inquiry must be written for an interested general audience.


Please submit proposals as soon as possible. When a proposal is accepted, we will discuss a specific timetable for completion of the Ethical Inquiry over the course of the next year.


Graduate students and alumni will be paid a $250 honorarium for completion of an Ethical Inquiry. Undergraduates who conduct research on behalf of the Ethics Center will be paid for up to 10 hours of work at the highest student worker hourly rate.


You may propose your own topic. At times we have tied the topic to an upcoming Ethics Center event or something in the news, but this is not a requirement.

Some ideas you might choose to develop in your proposal:

  • Ethical issues related to the Haiti earthquake and its aftermath.
  • Should amnesty ever be offered to suspected war criminals in order to end a war more quickly? (Connection to the work of Coexistence International)
  • Business ethics (See: Wall Street rates poorly for ethics, honesty)
  • Photography (See: Exhibit "Controversies: A Legal and Ethical History of Photography")
  • Is it ethical for an executive of a corporation that is receiving public assistance to receive whatever level of compensation the corporations board of directors feels is reasonable to provide incentive and retain his services?
  • Justice Brandeis: A contemporary take on one or more of his key rulings or ideas. Tie in with his birthday, a Supreme Court-related event, or some other event.
  • Is it ethical for a group of U.S. Congressmen and women, all of whom are members of the same political party, to vote as a bloc on legislative matters?

How to apply

Submit a proposed topic, along with a one-page outline of the inquiry including links to and brief descriptions of six to twelve sources representing a range of perspectives on the topic. If you will be consulting a faculty member as you work on the piece, please note that as well.

Email your proposal to series editor David Weinstein, Communications Specialist at the Ethics Center.


Email, or call 781-736-2115