Olson on Ethics

The Political Science Junior Fellows brought in James Olson, the CIA’s former Director of Counterintelligence, to discuss the “Ethics of Espionage” to an audience of some 300  students, staff, faculty, and local citizens on Thursday, November 17, 2011.  Olson’s spirited lecture proved a hit with town and gown alike.

Olson’s ethics lecture involved extensive participation by students, who voted on the ethics of specific scenarios, ranging from the use of blackmail over sexual orientation to the use drugs to prompt suspects to divulge information relating to national security.

“It was a great discussion,” noted Political Science major Dana Baker.  “This was so interesting, it made me really think about things.”  Business major Joshua Smith agreed, noting that “the Ethics speaker was AMAZING!”

Hands Raised For Olson

Students Engaged in the Discussion

The program was part of a larger speaker series spearheaded by Marketing Professor John Newbold.  Seeking to expose students to ethical scenarios that they were likely to face in the “real world,” Newbold partnered with colleagues Juliana Lilly and Mike Yawn to provide a multi-disciplinary look at ethics.  With the support of Dean Muehsam and the College of Business Administration (COBA)and the Political Science Junior Fellows, things began to fall into place.

Newbold and COBA sponsored the speeches of Gordon Massie, formerly of AIG, and Michael Young of Anadarko, while the Political Science Junior Fellows brought in Professor Olson.

Ethics Speaker Series

Olson was extraordinarily accommodating in his willingness to come to SHSU, with one provision: “Can I meet the famous Jim Olson of SHSU?”  “Yes,” replied the Junior Fellows, who quickly arranged an “Olson Meets Olson” meeting in the LSC Art Gallery (thanks Gayle Bullard!) following the ethics presentation.

Sam’s own Jim Olson provided a signed copy of his book, “John Wayne: American,” while TAMU’s Olson provided “our” Olson with a copy of his book: “Fair Play: The Moral Dilemmas of Spying,” which addresses 50 scenarios that Olson personally witnessed during his 25 year career in the CIA.

Olson Meets Olson--And Exchange Books!

Invited to the post-reception gathering were various Political Science students, Business students, and Criminal Justice students, making this an engaging interdisciplinary event.

COBA, CJ, CHSS, and Arts and Science Students with Professor Olson

At the reception, Junior Fellows’ officer Robert Loughran extended the interdisciplinary nature of the event to the fields of literature and popular culture, giving TAMU’s Jim Olson a signed book by Jeff Lindsay, “Double Dexter.”  Dexter, a popular television series, involves a serial killer who sublimates his killer tendencies by solving crimes for law-enforcement agencies.  Lindsay signed the book directly to Olson, writing, “Consider Dexter your 51st scenario!”

Dexter, Signed to Olson

“We were really happy with this event,” noted Junior Fellows’ President Christian Bionat.  “The students were very engaged, and the speaker was immensely interesting.  It was also really nice to have Sam Houston’s Jim Olson on hand, and we were very appreciative of the support by the Business and Criminal Justice faculty.  They did a great job of supporting this event, which is important, because it shows that a cross section of the University is concerned about ethics.”

The Political Science Junior Fellows are a multi-disciplinary organization that promotes professional development, education, and public service.

Olson’s lecture was part of a multi-disciplinary lecture series spearheaded by the College of Business Administration and involving the Junior Fellows, the World Affairs Council, and The College of Criminal Justice.


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