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Academic Ethos in Physical Therapy Education

Carey, James R. PT, PhD, FAPTA

Journal of Physical Therapy Education: September 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 191–197
doi: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000104

Background and Purpose. Academic ethos is the character or virtuousness of the academic institution and its programs that drives scholastic accomplishments. Ethos is obscure yet real and contains emotional energy or passion that gives meaning and moral worth to universities, colleges and academic health centers in contributing to the public good. Little information on academic ethos exists in the higher education literature, likely because it is an elusive concept that does not lend itself to a precise definition. The purpose of this paper is to describe the importance of academic ethos in physical therapy's role in the enterprise of higher education.

Position and Rationale. Emphasis includes the responsibilities academic ethos imposes upon academics for being vigilant on matters of character/virtuousness to sustain higher education's noble mission of promoting the public good. Also, threats intrinsic and extrinsic to the academy that weaken academic ethos are described in the form of diminished commitment to intellectualism, corporatization of higher education, political forces, and Faustian bargaining.

Discussion and Conclusion. Reflecting on academic ethos will assist physical therapy faculty in congealing their own programmatic ethos, as well as contributing to their institution's ethos, thus enabling them to optimize their role in the academy in serving the public good.

James R. Carey is the professor emeritus in Division of Physical Therapy, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 ( Please address all correspondence to James R. Carey.

The author declares no conflict of interests.

Received August 15, 2018

Received in revised form January 14, 2019

Accepted January 31, 2019

Copyright 2019 © Academy of Physical Theraphy Education
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