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The purpose of the Society is to promote scholarly work in Christian ethics and in the relation of Christian ethics to other traditions of ethics, and to social, economic, political and cultural problems; to encourage and improve the teaching of these fields in colleges, universities and theological schools; and to provide a community of discourse and debate for those engaged professionally within these general fields.

A non-denominational scholarly association, the Society of Christian Ethics draws its 950 members from the faculties of universities, colleges, and theological schools primarily from the United States, Canada, and Europe. The growth and vitality of the Society of Christian Ethics reflect the maturing of the academic discipline of Christian social ethics.

The SCE promotes research in the history of ethics and moral theology, theoretical issues relating to the interplay of theology and ethics, methodology in ethical reflection and investigation, and comparative religious ethics. At the same time, the Society addresses in national and global contexts problems in applied and professional ethics, and various human rights and social justice issues.

Membership in the Society is open to persons in the following groups: (1) college, university, or seminary teachers of Christian ethics or social ethics; (2) persons teaching in similar institutions in other fields who are concerned with the relation of Christian ethics to their subject matter; (3) persons whose full-time professional work in church, government, social agency or elsewhere is related to the purposes of the Society. Candidates for membership must have at least one of the following: a Ph.D. or equivalent degree or scholarly publications in the above-named fields, or a full-time teaching position in ethics or related fields in an accredited institution of higher learning. Doctoral students in ethics or related fields may become members of the Society upon matriculation into a doctoral program. This status ordinarily may be retained for not more than ten years.