Getting Ethics into Non-Philosophy Courses & other Strategies for Expanding Ethics Instruction


Questions about right and wrong action, what kinds of things are of value, and what kinds of persons we should be—i.e., ethics—arise in nearly every area of scholarly inquiry. This provides opportunities for philosophy departments to play a role at their universities outside their traditional courses.  

Recognizing this, some philosophy departments have expanded their offerings, providing courses tailored to students pursuing other majors. Business ethics is probably the most widespread example of this, along with courses for pre-med students, such as bio-medical ethics or nursing ethics. Here at the University of South Carolina, the Philosophy Department has regularly offered an engineering ethics course aimed largely at engineering students.

Besides stand-alone courses, some other means of spreading ethics across the curriculum include guest lectures in courses, team-taught courses, short-term “modules” inserted into preexisting courses, ethics training for professors in other disciplines, requirements for students to attend talks by visiting speakers on issues related to ethics, and…?

Prompted by a conversation I had last week with Maggie Little about Georgetown’s very interesting Ethics Lab, I’m seeking from readers (a) accounts of their departments’ attempts (successful or not) at bringing the study of ethics to an audience at their university outside those taking standard philosophy courses, and (b) some brainstorming about how to do this. Unconventional approaches encouraged.

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