CPRE recommends sixth course on ethics for PR classrooms

April 19, 2018 • Jonathan McVerry


The Commission on Public Relations Education (CPRE) recommended that a required ethics course be incorporated into public relations program curriculum. Its recommendation came from a three-year study published this month that examined university programs in the United States and abroad.

The report, “Fast Forward: The 2017 report on undergraduate public relations education,” addressed numerous topics in the discipline and provided perspectives, statistics and recommendations. Page Center director Denise Bortree led a team of experts on a chapter focusing on ethics.

The CPRE—which is backed by a number of organizations in the field including AEJMC, PRSA, PR Council, the Plank Center and many more—made a strong recommendation to integrate ethics into public relations education at the undergraduate level. The first of its 10 major recommendations, the report sanctioned the addition of a sixth course on public relations ethics to its recommended curricula.

This is in addition to the five-courses the CPRE recommended in 2006, which are introduction to public relations, research methods, writing, campaigns and internships.

According to the report, ethics was going to be a core issue before terms like “alternative facts” and “fake news” became household terms. However, the epidemic of unethical actions in the public sphere have intensified and changed “what it means to be an ethical profession.”

In 2017, the Page Center released 10 free online modules that specifically focus on ethics in the public relations field. The Center recruited 12 scholars to build the lessons, which can be easily integrated into new and existing syllabi. Topics include ethical decision-making, codes of ethics, global and digital ethics, corporate social responsibility, transparency and more.

“The Page Center has been at the forefront of ethics education since its founding,” Bortree said. “We were happy to contribute to the report and showcase the importance of ethics in the classroom. I think our modules are the perfect first step toward merging expertise from scholars into classrooms across the globe.”