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Author to speak about 'the cheating culture'

November 07, 2008

Anne McCarthy
(508) 523-6743

Anne McCarthy

Today's economic crisis is often compared to the dot-com bust of the late 1990s and early 2000 by many financial analysts. However, according to author David Callahan, there is one major difference.

"We go through periods in this country where people are very much focused on themselves and making a lot of money and [measuring] themselves by a set of materialistic values," says Callahan, author of "The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead" (Harcourt, 2004).

This is not one of those periods.

"I think the period we're in now is a very serious moment," says Callahan. "I think it is harder to be completely focused just on money and your own self-interest."

On Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 6:30 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University's Academic Integrity Office will present "An Ethical Crisis: Changing the Cheating Culture." At the event, SU students and faculty can find out just how this movement applies to them.

Callahan sees the trends of today's era as an improvement, especially since 2001, when he first became troubled by the cheating culture in the United States. The Enron, Tyco and WorldCom scandals caused Callahan to question how the respectable people from these companies could act in such unethical ways.

When he looked deeper into the issue of cheating in these big companies, Callahan learned how the issue of ethics extends beyond high-profile corporate scandals. He discovered that cheating also plagues the academic, medical, sports, legal and journalism fields, among others. Callahan wanted to know why, which was largely the inspiration for writing his book.

"Things are much more competitive now ... there are more temptations to cut corners ... because of the focus on money," he says.

In particular, Callahan highlights the growing temptations to cheat in school.

When Callahan was in school, he notes that admission was less competitive and less emphasis was placed on grades. Students were less anxious about securing the comforts of a middle-class status and lifestyle. Additionally, the increase in college tuition has increased the competition among students for grants and scholarships to fund their education. These pressures have fostered an environment in which cheating often seems like the only way to succeed, Callahan says.

For more information on Callahan and his discussion, contact Anne McCarthy at aemccart@syr.edu. Interviews with Callahan are available upon request.

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