Ethics Updates was founded in 1994 by Lawrence M. Hinman, a professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego. Originally, it was intended to update the bibliographical essays in two of his books, Ethics: A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory and Contemporary Moral Issues.
The site offers an on-line library of classic texts in ethics and a Calendar listing information about ethics-related conferences around the world. The Forums provide a place for students to discuss the ethical issues covered in the site. The Case Studies presents numerous studies in applied ethics, each case is accompanied by a discussion folder. The site also contains guides to writing ethics papers, a glossary of key terms, and a section on "Philosophers Speak Out on Issues of War, Peace, and Terrorism."
In 1996, Larry Hinman began the Ethics across the Curriculum program at the University of San Diego with a grant from the E. L. Wiegand Foundation. He has developed an Ethics across the Curriculum website to accompany that initiative.
In 1997, Hinman began videotaping the visiting Ethics across the Curriculum scholars—Carol Gilligan, Tu Weiming, Dan Callahan, Michael Walzer, and Michael Josephson—who were giving lectures and workshops on campus. He received a grant from the E. L. Wiegand Foundation for the development of Ethics Videos, a web site devoted to streaming video of ethics-related lectures, discussions, and interviews.
Hinman developed relationships with several organizations and universities, including the American Philosophical Association, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics the Kenan Institute of Ethics and the Center for Academic Integrity—to provide video streaming of their ethics events for the Web. He also began doing a series of interviews with contemporary moral philosophers, discussing their work with them in a conversational format. In addition, he made his own lectures on ethical theory and contemporary moral issues available in streaming video, along with accompanying PowerPoint presentations. At the beginning of 2004, the website ocntained over three hundred videos. Moreover, the quality has improved dramatically, and Ethics Videos now streams VHS-quality full screen broadband video of its most recent lectures and is in the process of updating earlier videos to this new standard.
In 2003, Hinman received a grant from the Skirball Foundation for American Values to hold an initial meeting of individuals, both academics and non-academic professionals, working in the area of ethics. This meeting was intended to foster communication between those who do ethics in the classroom and those who do ethics "in the trenches" as members of hospital ethics boards, mulicipal ethics commissions, and the like. In addition, it was intended to encourage interaction between those individuals in southern California and their counterparts in Baja California, Mexico. The result of this effort was the formation of the Ethics Consortium of Baja and Southern California, which has its own website.
Ethics Updates and its associated websites are housed in the Values Institute at the University of San Diego. The Institute is directed by Larry Hinman. Leeanna Cummings is the Executive Assistant to the Philosophy Department and the Values Institute.