Pat and I are committed to raising the level of awareness of ethical issues for this region and for the country. The examination of issues involving what is right, fair, just, legal and moral is becoming increasingly critical to the future of our world. Carlow University has an almost 100-year history of teaching values and moral behavior. The Atkins Center for Ethics is envisioned to continue a dialogue about the ethical reflection and reasoning needed on the moral and social problems facing our country and world today. This is the difference we hope this investment can make. -- Michele Atkins, former chair of the Carlow Board of Trustees. It is because of Michele's and her husband Patrick's generosity that this Center can further Carlow's mission.  

Increasingly, we are confronted with complex and nuanced ethical issues facing our society and world in areas of politics, health care, and education as well as every area of professional practice Multiculturalism, social disparities and technology have made it increasingly difficult to determine what is right, fair, just, legal, and moral. Preparing our students as ethical leaders, and promoting and providing opportunities for civil discourse on a range of topics facing our world, has never been more important or critical. The University’s mission and vision call upon us to reflect and act—and to make a meaningful difference in our world, our nation, region, city, community, and neighborhood. Because, if not us, then who?

The Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics is committed to bringing ethical reflection to bear on important social problems through research, teaching, and community engagement. The Center is a university-wide enterprise, which will have a vital role to play in advancing the University's core mission.

About Michele and Pat Atkins

Ethics and Dystopian Novels the Subject of Carlow University Essay Contest

Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics Offers Cash Prizes to High School Students


High school juniors and seniors who are fans of dystopian novels - like The Hunger Games - can win a cash prize if their essay is chosen as one of the top three essays in a contest sponsored by the Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics at Carlow University.

"Dystopian fiction is the depiction of an oppressive or degraded future society.  We are often urged to learn from the past, but can we learn from the future?" asked William Schweers, JD, the inaugural executive director of the Atkins Center.  "Dystopian novels warn of a grim future.  By warning of dangerous possibilities, dystopian fiction asks the reader to explore and question their moral values."

In addition to The Hunger Games, examples of dystopian fiction include Brave New World1984The GiverThe Handmaid's Tale, and Fahrenheit 451, to name just a few.

All essays should specifically address the essay topic - Bleak New World - Ethics and the Dystopian Novel - in an articulate, clear, and organized manner.  Essays should be the independent work of the student, 600 to 800 words in length, and submitted in a Microsoft Word document to

Essays will be judged on the basis of a thorough and well-organized response to the prompt and the ability to explore and discuss the ideas and ethical concepts that support the writer's position.  No particular ethical perspective will be imposed on the entrants, so students should feel free to express themselves freely.

Cash prizes will be awarded as follows:

1st Place - $600

2nd Place  - $300

3rd Place - $100.

All students' entries will be judged by the committee solely on the basis of merit, and no additional commitment is required.

For questions or more information, please email


About Executive Director William Schweers, JD

William Schweers, Jr is a lawyer and assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. He is the inaugural director of the Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics a University-wide center promoting moral reflection and deliberation in personal, professional, community, and civic life. Mr. Schweers is also co-chair of the University Faculty Assembly. He received his JD from Duquesne University, and a BA in English from Washington and Jefferson College. His substantial legal experience has been extensively called upon since his arrival at Carlow in 2008. He has taught in all three of Carlow’s Colleges, the Fraud and Forensics Master’s program, and in the Carlow Compass general education curriculum. His focus has been on legal and ethical issues across the curriculum. His teaching reflects a deep commitment to the enhancement of ethical standards in the professions and a dedication to providing support to students in the exploration of their own ethical stance, the ethical principles that are the foundation of their actions, and the ethical decisions that are required to be made within their community of practice.