by Lily Martínez, about SPAN 332 at the University of Illinois
The Ethics of Representation
Meanings of Representation: to stand in for, to symbolize, to speak on behalf of, to duplicate.
Shady Cosgrove introduces the importance of ethics of representation in one of her articles by situating the reader in a particular context, that of a beginner writer who is convinced that because his work is “fictional” or “made up”, he has no responsibility in knowing his facts, in this particular case, if Hitler and WWII are tied at all. With this example, Cosgrove presents a classical case of an individual who is possessed by negligence and a lack of consciousness of his/her responsibility when representing someone or something.
The students in the course, Spanish and Entrepreneurship, have a responsibility to be representatives of our university with collaborating community partners such as non-profit organizations, institutions and centers. However, what is important to note is that they are also representatives of their community partner once they are back on campus. Being able to move in and out of multiple socio-cultural contexts, while maintaining a high level of ethical practice and awareness of their potential to have a positive impact on a community or on individual, is one of the benefits students develop in the course. As Cosgrove has successfully demonstrated, the collaborative success of the students also depends on the double responsibility of representation, that, where the students take an initiative to familiarize themselves with the structures and knowledge’s of the organization itself, and realize that they are not the only ones giving back… two hours a week.