The Center for Leadership and Ethics at Virginia Military Institute is doing something brilliant: An ambitious and highly relevant conference on cheating. Two thousand participants will be discussing this critical topic, in small groups and in a larger forum. Pamela Meyer will join The Honorable Louis J. Freeh, former FBI Director, and esteemed author James Stewart, author of Tangled Webs How False Statements are Undermining America to address an audience of concerned students, faculty and leaders from across the nation. The Biennial VMI Leadership Conference is a top tier conference held every other year, attracting the faculty and cadets of the nation’s top schools, representatives of the public and private sector, military, and non-profit audiences. The conference is designed to explore themes relating to ethical leadership. This year’s conference theme, “Cheating, Lying and Honor in America’s High Schools, Colleges and Universities,” highlights what many have referred to as a national epidemic. Cheating is very much a real problem with far-reaching implications that cannot be ignored.
What makes this conference different? Why might you ask, is this a brilliant move on the part of the Center for Leadership and Ethics? There are several reasons:
- The idea for the conference came from the cadets themselves. Watch this video and see the commitment to honor and integrity in the eyes of the students. No duping delight here! When big ideas start from the ground up they have huge potential for grassroots uptake. There is a high likelihood that this conference will become an institution, growing its roots across the country. Already 2000 have signed up. That’s a big number. A revolution may be in the making.
- As VMI notes on its website, Cheating in America’s classrooms, in high schools and on college campuses, has become an epidemic. Researchers estimate 60% of high school students cheated on a test in the past year and one-third plagiarized from the Internet. From 70% to 83% of college undergraduates cheat and in business schools 56% admitted academic dishonesty in the past year. People who cheat as students are more likely to cheat as adults than those who do not. Addressing the problem of cheating in high school and college is mission critical. Address the problem at the high school level and you have a shot at shifting America’s ethical ground in a profound way.
- The conference has been brilliantly conceived by its hard working organizers who are doing something so ambitious it deserves comment: They are breaking the group of 2000 into small groups, facilitated by one hundred well trained facilitators. Take note, Tedsters. Take a look Klaus Schwab! Pay attention Clinton Global Initiative planners. Let’s watch the groundswell emerge.