GW Student Chosen for FASPE Ethics Fellowship

May 2, 2023

PhD student Leah Kaplan

New York, NY — Leah Kaplan, a Student of The George Washington University, is one of 14 students chosen for the 2023 Design & Technology Program of the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE).

Now in its thirteenth year of operation, FASPE provides a unique historical lens to engage graduate students in professional schools as well as early-stage practitioners in six fields (business, journalism, law, design & technology, medicine and seminary) in an intensive course of study focused on contemporary ethical issues in their professions.

The FASPE Design & Technology Program offers an approach that differs from the usual classroom experience in graduate schools or professional ethics seminars by providing a holistic curriculum that looks beyond the specifics of formal rules to focus on ethical problems faced by individual design and technology professionals in the various settings in which they practice. Fellows participate in a two-week program in Germany and Poland, which uses the conduct of design & technology professionals in Nazi-occupied Europe as a way to reflect on ethical issues currently facing architects, engineers, designers and other technologists today.

Daily seminars are led by specialized faculty who engage fellows in discussions, encouraging critical thinking about both the historical and the contemporary. The Design & Technology Program is strengthened by the diverse perspectives of its participants and its intense focus on the powers of place and context. The experience of the design & technology fellows is enhanced by traveling alongside the law and business fellows, who—in formal and informal settings—consider together how ethical constructs and norms in their respective professions align and differ.

“By educating students about the causes of the Holocaust and the power of their chosen professions, FASPE seeks to instill a sense of professional responsibility for the ethical and moral choices that the fellows will make in their careers and in their professional relationships,” said David Goldman, FASPE’s founder and chairman.

FASPE studies the perpetrators to emphasize the essential role of professionals and to ask how and why they abandon their ethical guideposts. The FASPE Design & Technology Program examines the role played by designers of built environments and technology professionals during the Nazi period, underscoring the reality that moral codes governing professionals can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences. With this historical background, the design and technology fellows are better positioned to confront contemporary issues.

The 2023 Fellowship will take place in Germany and Poland over the course of two weeks this summer (subject to health considerations). The Design & Technology Program will be led by Tawanna Dillahunt, associate professor of information, electrical engineering, and computer science at the University of Michigan, and Mary L. Gray, fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society as well as senior principal researcher at Microsoft Research.

Leah Kaplan is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the George Washington University and a Fellow with GWU’s Co-Design of Trustworthy AI Systems Program. Leah's research focuses on the potential impacts of automated vehicles, with an emphasis on equity and labor impacts. Through her research, Leah aims to understand how we can leverage emerging transportation technologies for the benefit of, rather than detriment to, society.

Kaplan joins a diverse group of 84 FASPE fellows across all six programs who were chosen through a competitive process that drew applicants from across the U.S. and the world. FASPE covers all program costs, including travel, food and lodging.

FASPE maintains long-term relationships with its fellows in order to sustain commitment to ethical behavior and to provide a forum for continued dialogue. To date, FASPE has over 750 alumni.

To learn more about FASPE and its programs, visit