Kirk O. Hanson

Kirk O. Hanson, Seminal thinker in the field of business ethics; professor, Stanford and Santa Clara Universities; Executive Director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence


Kirk Hanson is among the first academics to join the field of business ethics, having taught at the Stanford Business School from 1978 to 2001, and at Santa Clara University from 2001 to 2018.  At Santa Clara he was the Executive Director the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, one of the leading global centers for the study of applied ethics.  He also held the John Courtney Murray, S.J. University Professorship in Social Ethics there.

Hanson has published widely on managing the ethical and public behavior of corporations and their leaders.   His current research interests include the design of corporate ethics programs, the responsibilities of boards for the ethical culture of organizations and the ethics of artificial intelligence.  During his career, Hanson has consulted with more than 125 corporations, nonprofit organizations, health care entitles and government bodies on the design of ethics programs and the resolution of ethical dilemmas.

Hanson was the founding president of The Business Enterprise Trust, a national organization created by leaders in business, labor, media and academia to honor exemplary behavior in business.  He was the Honorary Chair of the first business ethics center in China and the first Chair of the Santa Clara County Political Ethics Commission. He served for 17 years on the board of the Skoll Foundation, promoting social entrepreneurship worldwide.

Today, Hanson is a Senior Fellow at Santa Clara’s Markkula Center, serves on the board of the Compassion Institute, dedicated to promoting compassion meditation and writes a twice-monthly newsletter, Ethics Megatrends.    He has been honored by the Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education and the American Leadership Foundation Silicon Valley.  He has received honorary doctorates from Santa Clara University and the University of Portland for his work on business responsibility.