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Character and the Professions (conference)

March 18, 2021 - March 20, 2021

Recent events have revealed the importance of character in leadership as well as the widespread lack of trust in our institutions. The professions have a special opportunity and obligation to promote personal integrity and to advance social trust.

On March 18-20, 2021, the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University and the Oxford Character Project at the University of Oxford will host a free virtual conference on Character and the Professions. The conference will consider questions such as:

  • What obligations do professionals have for advancing the public good?
  • What distinctive virtues are most important to ethical leadership for professionals?  What vices are most dangerous or tempting?
  • How can character be educated or improved among current or aspiring professionals?
  • How do specific institutions, incentives, and cultures form or de-form the character of professionals?

In partnership with the Face to Face Speaker Forum, the conference will feature a keynote session with former U.S. Secretaries of State, Madeleine K. Albright and General Colin L. Powell (Ret.), who will discuss leadership and character in public life.

The remainder of the conference will feature focused sessions that examine the role of character in the professions and elevate the virtues that are most important for professionals across the following contexts: business, engineering and technology, law, medicine, public life, and religious leadership. A plenary session will explore the relationship between diversity and character in various professional settings.

Confirmed speakers include prominent scholars from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Edinburgh, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of Virginia, and Wake Forest University, along with leading practitioners across various fields.

This international conference will provide a special opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and professionals to explore the importance of character in various professional settings and consider ways of cultivating character in their personal and professional lives.

The conference is funded with support from the John Templeton Foundation, Kern Family Foundation, and Lilly Endowment Inc.


March 18, 2021
March 20, 2021
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Wake Forest University Leadership and Character
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