Our Mission

The mission of the Center for the Study of Ethics (CSE) is to advance the interdisciplinary exploration of ethical theory and practice. The center administers a variety of programs designed to advance ethics education on our campus, within our region, and in national and cross-cultural contexts. The study of ethics is a critical tool in navigating the complexities of personal, professional, and civic life. The CSE is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy organization committed to the inclusion of diverse perspectives and practices. 
Center  activities include:
  • educational programs for students and faculty
  • public forums to promote civic engagement
  • interdisciplinary research projects


Brian D. Birch


Brian D. Birch is professor of philosophy and director of the Center for the Study of Ethics at Utah Valley University. He received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Philosophy from the University of Utah (1990, 1992) and completed a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Theology from Claremont Graduate University in 1998. His areas of focus include the intersection of ethics, religion, and public life. He is the founding editor of Teaching Ethics: The Journal of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum and among his current book projects is a volume entitled Radical Pluralism.

Phone: 801.863.6363
Email: brian.birch@uvu.edu


Nichole Ortega

Associate Director

Nichole Ortega teaches Ballet, Dance Education, and Repertory Ballet Ensemble. She is an active member and past president of the National Dance Education Organization, and the Utah Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters. She served two years as the Secondary Endorsement Dance Representative for the Utah State Office of Education and has choreographed for Synergy Dance Company, Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Utah Regional Ballet, Utah Regional Ballet II, Boise State College, and Scera Shell Outdoor Theater.

Phone: 801.863.7197
Email: nichole.ortega@uvu.edu


Elaine Englehardt

Distinguished Professor of Ethics

Elaine Englehardt Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Philosophy. She has taught ethics, philosophy, and communication since 1976. She has written and directed seven national grants in  Ethics and Ethics Across the curriculum. She is considered the founder of the Ethics Across the Curriculum movement. She has authored eight books, numerous articles, and co-edits the journalTeaching Ethics. She has served as Vice President, Dean and Director at UVU. Her PhD is from the University of Utah.

Phone: 801.863.6464

courtney burns

Courtney Burns

Program Coordinator

Courtney Burns graduated from the Utah Valley University with a B.A. in Integrated Studies and from Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland with an M.A. in Comparative Ethnic Conflict. She has interests in the areas of Conflict Transformation and Intercultural Ethics

Phone: 801.863.5455 
Email: courtney.burns@uvu.edu


Gabriel Toscano

Communications Specialist

Gabriel Toscano is the Communications and Publicity Specialist for the Center for the Study of Ethics. He is a senior at Utah Valley University studying Philosophy, Spanish, and Religious Studies. His topics of interest include intersectional feminism, religious pluralism as well as contemporary U.S. and Latin American politics

Phone: 801.863.6455
Email: gabriel.toscano@uvu.edu

Faculty Advisory Board


Anne Arendt

Technology Management

Anne Arendt is an Assistant Professor in Technology Management. Prior to that, she worked as the Web Resource Director in University Marketing and Communications. Before that position, she worked in Distance Education as a Resource Manager. In total, Anne has been at UVU for over 11 years. Before coming to Utah, she worked for Walden University in Minneapolis as the Director of Web and Application Development, and at Smyth Companies in Saint Paul as a Web Team Manager.

jessica awtrey

Jessica Awtrey

University College

Jessica Awtrey is the Assistant Dean of University College and Instructor in the Department of Student Leadership & Success Studies at Utah Valley University. She received a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from UVU and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Illinois. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Utah where her primary research examines how special interests shape and influence public policy. She served as program coordinator for faculty development initiatives in UVU’s Office of Academic Affairs where she received the Vice President’s Award of Excellence in 2013.


Thomas Bretz

Philosophy and Humanities

Thomas Bretz is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy & Humanities Department. He earned a PhD. in Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago as well as a Masters in Philosophy from The New School. He teaches introductory courses on ethics and philosophy as well as courses in various areas of environmental philosophy. For his research, he focuses on the question of how we, as individuals and as a society, could develop more sustainable and equitable relationships to the non-human world. He is a faculty advisor for the UVU Green Club. 

courtney davis

Courtney Davis

Fine Arts

Courtney Davis is the incoming chair for the Art department at UVU. She has taught there since 2007 both as a lecturer and an assistant professor in the Department of Art & Design. She is a licensed attorney in the state of Utah. Courtney is passionate about topics related to arts management, freedom of expression, and copyright law. In recent years, Courtney has been honored with the UVU Faculty Senate Excellence Award and the Alumni Outstanding Education Award, both for the School of the Arts.

Michael Goode

Michael Goode

History and Political Science

Michael Goode is an Assistant Professor of History. As a historian of early America and the British Atlantic with a particular focus on religion and political culture, he researches and writes about how early modern peoples thought about and negotiated violence, colonialism, and warfare – and what this tells us about our present-day engagement with these vexing problems. His book project examines the role of peace as a language and practice of government in colonial Pennsylvania.


Laura Guerrero

Philosophy & Humanitites

Laura Guerrero is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy.  She earned a PhD in Philosophy from the University of New Mexico and a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii.  She teaches a variety of courses that emphasize cross-cultural connections between traditions around the globe. Her academic work focuses on drawing productive connections between contemporary Western and classical Indian theories of mind, metaphysics, and knowledge.  She is a member of the Religious Studies Committee and the Learning Community Faculty Advisory Board.  She is also the faculty advisor for the UVU Meditation Club.

Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall

Public and Community Health

Sarah Hall is an Assistant Professor in the Public and Community Health Department. She earned her Ph.D. in Global Health from Arizona State University. She also holds a Master of Public Administration and a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. She teaches International Health, Community Health Ethics, Theory-Based Approaches to Modifying Health Behavior, Social Promotion, and Personal Health and Wellness. Prior to obtaining her Ph.D., she managed programs and marketing for several nonprofit organizations. Sarah has worked extensively on health and environment related projects in countries including South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, New Zealand, Mexico, Thailand, and Indonesia. 

Wayne Hanewicz

Wayne Hanewicz

Integrated Studies

Wayne Hanewicz is Professor and Chair of Integrated Studies and Professor of Philosophy. He is particularly interested in Buddhism as it relates to psychoanalysis and Jungian archetypes, science, the nature of thinking, and finding personal meaning in life. Wayne earned a PH.D from the University of Michigan, with dual majors in Classical Political Theory and Philosophy, and dual minors in Personality Theory and Psychiatry. He has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses at several universities.


Rick McDonald

English & Literature

Rick McDonald is a professor in the Department of English and Literature at Utah Valley College.  His areas of Scholarly interest include Medieval Mysticism, Medieval Literature, and ethical considerations within Horror movies. Rick is a past Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Ethics and has been at UVU for 16 years.

Michael Minch

Michael Minch

Peace & Justice Studies

Michael Minch is the Director of Peace & Justice Studies. His research focuses on conflict transformation and peacebuilding (including negotiation and mediation, theories of violence, and reconciliation), theories of justice, and global justice. He also works in political and moral theory, and in particular, the connections between them; democratic theory and democratic peace theory, political ecology and political theology.

Kate McPherson

Kate McPherson


Kate McPherson is Professor of English and Honors Program Director at UVU. She is co-editor of several scholarly essay collections about English Renaissance drama, and she also serves as Resident Scholar for the Grassroots Shakespeare Company, an original practices performance troupe begun by two UVU students. In recent years, Kate has been honored with the UVU Trustees Award, the College of Humanities & Social Sciences Faculty Excellence Award and the Alumni Outstanding Educator Award.

Luke Peterson

Luke Peterson

History/Political Science

Luke Peterson BIO MISSING


Jeff Peterson

Business Management

Jeff Peterson is an Associate Professor of Business Management in the Woodbury School of Business, where in addition to teaching Organizational Behavior courses he teaches Business Ethics to both undergraduate and MBA students. Prior to coming to UVU Professor Peterson had an extensive career in industry and has worked for, or consulted for companies such as Intel, Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Weyerhaeuser, and Premera Blue Cross. He is a strong proponent of the value of concerted self-reflection as a tool to help people live informed lives that embody ethical and moral behavior.

Axel Ramirez

Axel Ramirez

Secondary Education

Axel Ramirez is an associate professor of education. He was a public school teacher for twelve years prior to coming to UVU. His area of focus is K-12 social studies education. His current projects include recruiting Latina/o students into the field of education and developing curriculum for Pacific Islander secondary students.


Sowmya Selvarajan


Sowmya Selvarajan is an assistant professor of Geomatics. She joined Utah Valley University in 2012. She teaches a range of Geomatics courses in mapping. Her research includes geographical information systems, image processing and remote sensing. Sowmya earned her PhD from the University of Florida and Masters of Engineering from the National University of Singapore. She currently serves as the intermountain region president of the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

courtney burns

Michael T. Stevens


Michael T. Stevens is an Associate Professor of Biology and the Director of Capitol Reef Field Station. He teaches and conducts research in two areas: plant ecology and science education. As a plant ecologist, he studies how trees and shrubs interact with their environment and are influenced by factors such herbivory, competition, latitude, soil nutrients, and boulders. As a science educator, he studies the roles that Science Faculty with Education Specialties (SFES) play in higher education.

Daniel Waddington

Daniel Waddington

Criminal Justice

Daniel Waddington has over 35 years of comprehensive criminal justice experience as a project manager, mentor, consultant, educator, trainer, and analyst, both domestic and international. He is a recognized expert in the fields of Countering Violent Extremism, Community Policing, Crime and Problem Analysis, Organization Development and has implemented Human Rights and Ethics training to police organizations throughout the world. He has been an advisor and guest lecturer for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the Global Counter Terrorism Form (GCTF) and the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism.

Jonathan Westover

Jonathan Westover


Jonathan Westover Jonathan Westover is an Associate Professor of Organizational Leadership in the Woodbury School of Business and Director of Academic Service Learning at UVU. He is also the program co-director of the Human Resource Management program and the faculty co-advisor for the UVU SHRM Student Chapter (Society for Human Resource Management). Additionally, Jonathan is the president of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters and is a human capital leadership and performance management consultant. He was recently a Fulbright Scholar (Minsk, Belarus), a POSCO Fellow at the East-West Center (Honolulu, Hawaii), and visiting scholar at the Wilson Center (Washington, D.C.)