• Character Clearinghouse

Good Practice Resources

Although most colleges and universities today do not usually consider character development to be a critical student outcome measure, it is a surprisingly persistent and widespread activity in almost all types of higher education institutions (Dalton & Crosby, 2010). Over the past two decades, colleges and institutions have devoted considerable energies and resources to a wide range of educational programs and initiatives designed to promote character values and behaviors in their students. Some scholars (Kiss & Euben, 2010) claim that widespread societal concern about ethics has led to many new educational and professional initiatives that constitute a “return to ethics” in the academy.

Most colleges and universities are engaged in at least five types of educational activities or initiatives that are designed to influence the moral values and behaviors of college students. The following five types of activities/initiatives target different moral issues or concerns in college student beliefs and behaviors:

  • Encouraging Civic Responsibility
  • Promoting Holistic Personal Development
  • Encouraging Intellectual/Academic Values
  • Promoting Pro-social Attitudes/Values
  • Combating Dangerous and Illicit Behaviors

These institutional efforts have been rarely labeled as “character” development programs, but often one of their implicit purposes has been to guide the personal moral values and behaviors of college students on some very pressing contemporary ethical issues and problems. In the following the authors identify and define some of these ethical development efforts and provide examples of them from colleges and universities.


Dalton, J. C., & Crosby, P. C. (2010). How we teach character in college: A retrospective on some recent higher education initiatives that promote moral and civic learning. Journal of College & Character11(2), 1-10.

Kiss, K., &  Euben, J. P. (Eds.). (2010). Debating moral education: Rethinking the role of the modern university.Durham, NC: Duke University Press.