About the W.K. Kellogg Chair Position in Agricultural, Food & Community Ethics

Advancements in biological and informational technologies continue to pave the way for innovation in food systems and the management and sustainability of the world’s natural resources. However, many of these breakthroughs also raise ethical and other critical concerns which also need to be considered. The endowed chair is just one example of the efforts by MSU to enhance understanding but also to take action on complex ethical challenges which arise through increased global interconnectedness and natural resource exploitation and depletion.

Dr. Paul B. Thompson, the endowed chair, holds the crucial role of providing moral perspective and stimulate dialogue across the disciplines on the ethical questions scientists face, forcing them to rethink their initial query of “Can we do this?” and instead, re-pose it as “Should we do this?” As the endowed chair, Dr. Paul Thompson has a joint appointment in the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He he serves on the faculty in the departments of PhilosophyCommunity Sustainability and Agricultural Food and Resource Economics.

The chair position requires more than scientific experience; it requires a strong sense of moral judgment and the ability to become a leader in more than one setting. In today’s world it is becoming increasingly important for both students and faculty to stretch their horizons and become engaged in studies which transcend disciplines, making the chair’s leadership a crucial step towards helping this come about.

Paul B. Thompson is in charge of developing new, evolved ways of teaching by incorporating science, engagement with local communities, and ethical investigation into his education plans. The concentrations of this investigation may include biotechnology assessment, natural resource protection methods, sustainable agriculture, health and food systems safety, animal welfare and organic farming. The overall end goal of this position is to successfully bridge knowledge between colleges, working in collaboration to discover new solutions and methods in sustainable practices through an ethical lens.

The gift from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that established the Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics also established the Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project which is an important endeavor providing grants to natural, physical and social scientists working towards building a more sustainable Michigan.