Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Professor Shuns Plagiarism Police Role

In her new book, My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture, University of Notre Dame anthropologist Susan D. Blum promotes a proactive academic integrity appeal to students that encourages recognizing originality and distinguishing between levels of plagiarism (It’s Culture, Not Morality, Inside Higher Ed, February 3, 2009). With a greater emphasis on collaboration and a "entirely different concept of ownership," today's students need more education on what is acceptable when using the work of others in assignments rather than a heavy emphasis on the penalties for plagiarism. Also, constructing assignments to minimize the opportunity for plagiarism is an important academic integrity tool for professors.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do most professors assume that students know what academic integrity means by the time they reach college?
  2. How much do professors explain acceptable practices when students work on assignments?
  3. Do you think most professors agree that it's a good idea for students to work together on projects?
  4. Is all plagiarism equally bad? Or is forgetting to cite a source worse than copying a paragraph from a book and not putting quotes around it?

Company Put Profits over Safety in Tainted Peanut Scandal

Allegations that the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) willfully sold salmonella-contaminated peanuts that caused at least nine deaths and made over 600 people ill in 43 states continues to rock the entire food industry (Salmonella Outbreak Eases Way for Food Safety Reforms, Baltimore Sun, February 15, 2009). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that PCA owner, Stewart Parnell disregarded "at least 12 tests revealing salmonella in 2007 and 2008" and persisted in distributing peanut products in a quest to increase profits. A criminal investigation is underway into PCA's actions.

In the wake of this tragedy, food safety advocates are calling for reform of the FDA with one Connecticut congressperson calling for a new agency, Food Safety Administration to work proactively to prevent food contamination. Rep. Rosa DeLauro sponsored legislation for the Food Safety Modernization Act to mandate that "companies control health hazards in their operations and meet federal standards for removing contaminants and be subject to regular inspections, based on the "risk profile" of the food they produce." Also, the act would give government the ability to "seize unsafe products and order recalls."

Discussion Questions:
  1. Why would a company risk lives by distributing unsafe products? Are companies so desperate to make money in a downturned economy that they would do anything to increase profits? Didn't someone realize that continuing to distribute these dangerous products would ultimately cause the downfall of the company and related businesses?
  2. Despite additional government inspections and regulations, the consumer still must depend on the food industry to act responsibly and follow safe practices when processing their products. How can the food industry ensure that companies employ best practices when processing food?
  3. After reading this article from the Baltimore Sun, what other practices or regulations would you recommend to improve food safety?