University Center for Human Values

Academic Unit

Program Information

Established in 1990 through the generosity of Laurance S. Rockefeller ‘32, the University Center for Human Values fosters ongoing inquiry into important ethical issues in private and public life and supports teaching, research, and discussion of ethics and human values throughout the curriculum and across the disciplines.

Today, the center is the hub of a lively and exciting community that brings together Princeton faculty members, graduate students, undergraduates, visiting faculty fellows and other visitors. The center is home to a growing number of faculty members with teaching and research interests in various aspects of human values, most of whom are jointly appointed in their disciplines. The undergraduate certificate program in Values and Public Life defines a pathway through the curriculum for students interested in developing a focus on human values. We sponsor an array of activities, from specialized seminars and lectures to large campus events, aimed to stimulate and inform members of the center and of the greater campus community. And we support research on human values by Princeton faculty members, graduate students and undergraduates. Through all of these activities the center strives to provide the larger community with the space and resources to reflect systematically about fundamental questions of value—how we should understand our moral identities, how we should treat each other, and how we should try to shape our world.

One of the University Center's activities within the undergraduate curriculum is to cosponsor courses with departments and programs. The center encourages students to supplement their disciplinary concentrations with a set of these courses, which address fundamental questions about the meaning and value of human life and the ethical relationships of individuals and societies. The University Center for Human Values is also home to the Human Values Forum, which provides an opportunity for undergraduate students and faculty members to meet in an informal setting to discuss current and enduring questions concerning ethics and human values.

The undergraduate courses listed below, some of which are sponsored or cosponsored by the center, examine issues involving human values from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Each year the University Center for Human Values sponsors several Freshman Seminars in the residential colleges. For a list of the current seminars, please check the freshman seminars website.

The center awards senior thesis prizes to seniors who have written outstanding theses in the area of ethics and human values. Departments are invited to nominate their best thesis in this area.

For information about courses relevant to the study of human values, visit the center's website.