The Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) and the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) both held their annual meetings in Jacksonville Florida on the first weekend in March.

Two emerging themes from the conferences were the growing interest in the links between neuroscience, psychology and ethics moving away from philosophy as the dominant discipline; and the move away from compliance both in ethics and in academic integrity with a greater emphasis on positive behaviour.

Both groups have international reach, each has members from around 20 countries. There were presenters at APPE from Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, Puerto Rico, UK and at ICAI from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dubai, Egypt, Lithuania, Qatar. An Australian, Tracey Bretag from UniSA, is now chair of the International Council of ICAI. Ed Spence from CSU/ CAPPE is on the Board of APPE.

Practitioners made up half of the attendees at the Academic Integrity conference, including students involved in the Honor Code processes which many US colleges have. The keynote address at APPE was from the CEO of the largest division of Tyco, a corporation that a decade ago was at the centre of fraud and greed controversies.

Both conferences have ‘add ons’. APPE is preceded by the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, a nationwide undergraduate debating competition which takes up a whole day before the conference proper begins. 32 teams took part, all qualifying in regional competitions. In Jacksonville the competition ran for some 15 hours, with the winning teams having to appear 6 times in the round-robin and finals stages. The winning team was from the University of Montana. APPE had a half-day colloquium for directors of ethics centres and a mini-conference on liberty and security, each running for half a day. ICAI had two day-long pre-meetings for Canadian and south-east US group members, and a series of short pre-conference workshops on the first morning. APPE has a book room with displays from publishers and books at discounted prices.

Both conferences had a variety of presentation formats, and although the traditional hour-long presentation dominated there were poster sessions and panels. APPE printed the progam in both chronological and theme formats, with biomedical, business, engineering, law, journalism, research ethics, moral theory and teaching ethics themes. It’s worth noting here that our own AAPAE has a broader remit than either of these US conferences.

The meetings were in the one hotel which made joint attendance quite a bit easier than at the multi-venue Academy of Management and Society for Business Ethics meetings which are also traditionally held in the same town at the same time in August.