Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions

student fellow presentation
Members of the 2024 Cohort.

2022-2023 Annual Report

The Cal Turner Program in Moral Leadership seeks to investigate the dimensions of moral leadership with the goal of producing better leaders who represent high achievement in their spheres of influence and leadership for the common good.

We seek to influence individuals within teaching and learning communities at most Vanderbilt professional schools, Vanderbilt University as a whole, and the community of Middle Tennessee more broadly. Whether it be in a workshop, a year-long student fellowship, or a webinar, we aim to foster a deep sense of vocation within our participants, encouraging them to identify the moral purpose and values inspiring their work.

As a part of this mission, we seek to provide sustained, substantive conversation and skill-building opportunities on key moral issues such as justice, poverty, and homelessness, as well as race, how to provide trauma-informed care, and address change at systemic levels.

We promote moral leadership as involving:

    • Vocational commitment; ongoing discernment, improvisation, and learning
    • Passion and compassion
    • Reflection on personal experience
    • An integrated, cultivated inner life
    • Interpersonal skills
    • Adaptive leadership that tackles complex social problems
    • Community connection and collaborative action
    • Risk; involving service, sacrifice, struggle, and more
    • Naming moral issues as moral
    • Requiring diversity of perspective, professionally and otherwise
    • Seeing the bigger picture of everyday actions
    • Engagement with moral exemplars
    • Awareness of situational variables and biases
    • Moral reminders and fellowship for moral resilience
      Cal Turner Program - “Moral Resiliency for Moral Leadership in the Professions” keynote, speaker nursing clinical ethicist Cynda Rushton from John Hopkins University, co-author of Moral Resiliency: Responding to Moral Suffering in Healthcare.
      Photos by Joe Howell


The Cal Turner Program collaborates with many organizations at Vanderbilt, within Nashville and across the nation. Some of our partnerships are:

  • Carpenter Program, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Courageous Voices in Action
  • National Conflict Resolution Center 
  • Tennesseans Against the Death Penalty 
  • The School for Contemplative Living 
  • The Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University 
  • The Vanderbilt University Community Engagement Collaborative 
  • The Office of Health Equity at VUMC