The Pamplin College of Business 27th Annual Del Alamo/Hogan Business Ethics Symposium took place on March 20th at the Graduate Life Center. This year’s symposium featured Virginia Tech’s own Marc Edwards. Dr. Edwards is the first keynote speaker from Virginia Tech in the symposium’s history.

The symposium is supported by Pamplin alumni Robert F. Hogan Jr., who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting in 1978 and 1980, respectively, and Jorge Del Alamo Jr., who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1969, and his wife, Lin. The Ethics Symposium was sponsored by the Business Leadership Center, Cherry Bekaert, and Partners in Financial Planning

Edwards is the Charles Lunsfor Professor of Civil Engineering, where he teaches courses in environmental engineering, applied aquatic chemistry, and engineering ethics. His research and work laid the groundwork for investigative science uncovering the 2001-2004 D.C. Lead Crisis and the 2014-2016 Flint Water Crisis. Time’s Magazine dubbed Edwards “The Plumbing Professor” in 2004 and listed him amongst the 4 most important “innovators” in water from around the world. The White House awarded him a Presidential Faculty Fellowship in 1996 and he won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2007.

In 2016, he was selected for the TIME 100, Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was also among Fortune magazine’s world’s 50 greatest leaders; Politico magazine’s top 50 visionaries who have transformed American politics; and Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 world’s greatest thinkers. He was short-listed for Time’s 2016 Person(s) of the Year, along with other Flint whistleblowers.

Dean Sumichrast began the symposium on Pamplin College of Business’s history. He described that the college was built on an importance in ethics and how it still strives to keep the ethics in the forefront of Pamplin.

In speech about “Truth-Seeking in an Age of Tribalism: Lessons from the Flint Water Crisis and its Aftermath,” Edwards emphasized the need of ethics within scientists and engineers. He addressed the meaning of ethics through the use of unethical tribalism in agencies that he experienced through the D.C. Lead Crisis and the Flint Water Crisis.

“It is very difficult to be ethical personally, now just imagine how much more difficult those choices become if you’re a company,” stated Edwards.

Edwards outlined two main problems when it came to ethics. He stated being too loyal to oneself and to your tribe can cause someone to commit unethical choices. The true challenge is to find the truth and fight for the truth when others do not.

Throughout all of Edwards efforts, he used science as a “public good” to influence his research. Edwards continues to motivate himself by his love for science and how it can better other’s lives all over the world.