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Personal responsibility is the measure of a person’s abilityto consider a choice, act, and accept consequences within a larger ethical framework.
Personal responsibility is not only taking the initiative to make a decision, but accepting the consequences of that decision. Additionally, personal responsibility recognizes that decisions are not made in a vacuum. We come to conclusions based on our own understanding of right and wrong and who should benefit most from our choices. These frameworks are often informed by our families, our cultures, our friends, our age, and our lived experiences which can include education and faith. Beyond making choices, we also want to be able to understand why we make the choices we do. Only in that moment of understanding are we taking full personal responsibility for our actions.
On the job as in life, we must make decisions and be held accountable for those decisions. Employers need people who can look at multiple options, make wise choices, and accept the consequences of those choices. Companies can also have ethical frameworks built into institutional culture or company ethos. A failure to recognize these early on may lead to you working for the wrong company, a company that does not share your values. At the very least, some of the company’s actions may seem confusing to you if you are not able to understand their framework for decision making.
Similarly, communities need people that can make an informed decision, take responsibility for the consequences, and be self-aware of their own ethical framework so they can understand their decision and anticipate future decisions. Additionally, our decision-making process will sometimes change as we gain more life experience or move from one community to another. If we are not aware of who we are, we will not be aware of how we are changing.
In an effort to evaluate personal responsibility, we reflect on the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) VALUE rubric on Ethical Reasoning. The rubric tries to identify five characteristics of personally responsible people: ethical self-awareness, understanding different ethical perspectives, recognizing ethical issues, applying ethical perspectives, and evaluating different ethical perspectives. UTA evaluates these characteristics by looking at Signature Assignments in Language, Philosophy, and Culture courses and evaluating the work against the AAC&U rubric.
Below are some of our recent reports that explain how we are doing as an institution.