Santa Clara University

Hit the books

Do the Right Thing

“Life is about decisions; a good life is about ethical decisions. This book is how to achieve the good life.”
—Leon Panetta ’60, J.D. ’63, commenting on Thomas G. Plante’s book Do the Right Thing

In his book, Do the Right Thing: Living Ethically in an Unethical World (New Harbinger, 2004, $14.95) Thomas G. Plante, professor of psychology and director of the Center for Professional Development at SCU, explores how we make decisions and offers suggestions on how to do the right thing. Plante urges readers to use a system that considers integrity, competence, responsibility, respect, and concern when establishing a rationale for a decision. Plante also includes many anecdotes, exercises, and strategies to help readers better understand the approach.

Do the Right Thing book cover

“Life is about decisions; a good life is about ethical decisions. This book is how to achieve the good life,” said Leon Panetta ’60, J.D. ’63, former White House chief of staff and director of the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy.

Plante, who is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Menlo Park, has taught classes in ethics at SCU and Stanford and conducts workshops in ethics for psychologists. He is the author of numerous books and professional articles, and he conducts research concerning religious faith and health outcomes, the psychological benefits of exercise, and psychological issues among Catholic clergy. Plante has been featured on CNN, PBS’s “News Hour With Jim Lehrer,” National Public Radio, and local television news shows as well as in national magazines and newspapers including Time, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, and Newsweek.

Study of Evil

The book is the “result of 10 years of research into the psychology of genocide and the Holocaust, the psychology of war, of terrorism, obedience, and the many other ways in which human beings behave aggressively and often cruelly toward other people, toward other species, and often even toward themselves,” says Steven James Bartlett ’65, author of The Pathology of Man: A Study of Human Evil (Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 2005, $53.95). The book applies the science of pathology to the human species and identifies and describes the pathologies that afflict our species. Bartlett says he aims to provide a solid foundation of scholarship encompassing the work of 20th century psychologists, psychiatrists, ethologists, psychologically focused historians, and others who have studied human aggression and destructiveness.

Bartlett is the author of eight other books and monographs and many papers in the fields of psychology, philosophy of science, and problem solving. He has served as professor at Saint Louis University and the University of Florida, and as research fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute in Starnberg, Germany, and as fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

Prize-Winning Student Poetry

Each year, the SCU English department awards several prizes to students for outstanding writing. Here we share a poem by SCU student, Stefanie Silva, who was the 2005 winner of the Shipsey Poetry Prize. Established in 1954 by Richard W. Schmidt in honor of the late Edward Shipsey, S.J., this prize recognizes the outstanding contribution in the art of poetry as determined by an annual competition.

Silver Creek

A boy I knew killed a kid in Silver Creek last night. He once called me on the telephone and told me he loved me. Only fifteen years old. Seinfeld was on TV that Thursday night, and I didn’t feel like blow-drying my frizzy hair. I wore faded, blue flannel pajamas decorated with white lilies. The moon outside was a yellow blade on a scythe. He had just returned from visiting his uncle in the Philippines. His voice was older than mine, it vibrated like a purring velvet cat, claws retracted. I love you, he said. Then he asked me how much I weighed. I said I could not love him back—I had school the next day. He gave me advice. Be careful. Don’t hang out with losers. Drugs are bad—all that sh** gets you nowhere. Please, he pleaded, I love you so be careful. I scratched my arm and said yes, yes. I should have told him that his jutting cheekbones would one day flood the local news. I should have handed him a white lily: The moon will not help you that night in Silver Creek. The Creek will not glow metallic. You will not bend down and splash the cold creek water onto your sweaty hands.

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