Research Projects

Ethics institute faculty, visiting scholars, and students conduct research on a diverse range of social and environmental issues, including human rights, global justice, health care, immigration, artificial intelligence, war and terrorism, patriotism, biotechnology, environmental justice, climate change, economic justice, and philanthropy. Institute faculty also conduct research on ethical theory, religious ethics, formal epistemology, and descriptive ethics. Information about faculty members’ research programs can be found on their profiles here.

Below are descriptions of several ongoing research projects supported by the Institute.


Reporting on Religion

Elizabeth Bucar, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion


Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism, and International Affairs

In 2016 Professor Elizabeth Bucar was awarded an inaugural Religious, Journalism, and International Affairs (RJIA) grant for a two year project called “Reporting on Religion.”

This funding supported collaboration between religious studies and journalism through two projects. The first project developed an experiential course called “Reporting on Religion” that Bucar co-taught with journalism professor Carlene Hempel. Together the two developed a course to deliver targeted religious literacy to journalism students and then applied these frameworks and concepts in a week-long reporting trip to Granada Spain.

The second project was a day-long workshop, “Reporting on Religion: Rethinking the Ways Journalists and Scholars Communicate.” The workshop brought together working journalists across various media—print, broadcast, and radio—as well as several religious studies scholars who are thought-leaders in their various fields, for a series of collaborative conversations.

Follow this project at #NEUrelreport on Twitter.

To view pictures of Granada Spain click here.

To view pictures of Reporting on Religion Workshop, click here.

Sacred Writes: Public Scholarship on Religion

Elizabeth Bucar, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion

Megan Goodwin, Visiting Lecturer of Philosophy and Religion


Scholars of religion can in theory help provide important textual, cultural, and historical context for pressing current issues like healthcare legislation, climate change, and immigration reform. But most of us lack the training to do that sort of public-facing work. Doctoral programs prioritize formal communication that emphasizes scholarly expertise over accessible writing. Tenured and tenured-track scholars are not rewarded or recognized for public scholarship. Senior mentors often lack experience in non-academic publishing.

Sacred Writes is a four year project generously funded by the LUCE foundation that will serve a small but crucial role in advancing accurate, research-based public discourse on religion and theology. The project combines week-long training institutes for scholars on how to produce public scholarship with innovative short-term media collaborations. Over the course of four years, Sacred Whites will train 30 scholars in topics such as: pitching an op-ed, building a scholarly/ professional brand, using social media to promote and amplify scholarship. Scholars will then have the opportunity to participate in a shot-term collaboration with a media outlet. For the scholar, this partnership is an opportunity to apply newly acquired skills in an actual media environment. And for the media host, the program provides a highly trained short-term employee to help expand the outlet’s coverage of religion.

Follow this project on twitter @Sacred_Writes

Globalizing Minority Right: Cosmopolitanism, Global Institutions, and Cultural Justice

Serena Parekh, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director, PPE Program


GMR (2016-2020) project aims to develop a cosmopolitan approach to the conceptualization, justification, and implementation of minority rights, and to test this theoretical framework on three case studies: minorities in the developing world, indigenous peoples, and refugees. This project is funded by the Research Council of Norway and lead by Prof. Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen and Associate Prof. Annamari Vitikainen Department of Philosophy, UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Serena Parekh, Northeastern University, is a main researcher on the project, and the Northeastern Ethics Institute will host a 2 day international conference in 2019-20 on the topic of Global Structural Injustice as part of it.

Data Ethics: Building Ethical Awareness and Reflective Capacity

John Basl, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Ronald Sandler, Professor of Philosophy and Director, Ethics Institute


There are frequent calls for increasing ethical awareness and reflective capacity within institutions that collect, aggregate, analyze and share large amounts of data. However there is very little substantive guidance on how to accomplish this in practice. This project, a collaboration between the Ethics Institute and Accenture, explores the use of oversight committees and review boards help to identify and address issues in data ethics within institutional contexts. The project compares the relative merits of a review board system with other strategies for building ethical capacity, such as a predominantly compliance and training model. The project also details the components of an effective review board or committee based system and what is involved in building one.