By the end of Unit One, you should be able to explain and apply the three classic Western ethical theories, as well as Bud Krogh’s “Integrity Zone.” You will also be able to connect these theories with real life ethical crises like the Watergate Era, the Rwandan Genocide, and the HIV/AIDS Crisis.
WEEK ONE ASSIGNMENT:
Ethics: An Introduction
1. Read the prompt.
2. Complete the lecture/readings.
3. Respond in your journal and post on the discussion page.
4. Participate in the online session.
What is ethics? According to Joel Rosenthal, the President of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, “Ethics stems from Socrates’ question, ‘How should one live?’ The study of ethics is an attempt to answer the question, what is the right thing to do? What action is right rather than wrong, better rather than worse? Ethics is an investigation into the claims that have a hold on us. For me, ethics hinges on the concept of ‘choice.’ What standards do we use when we make choices and judgments? What values do we invoke and why? In studying ethics, we use reason to interrogate our own decision-making process and hierarchy of values.”
In this assignment, you will learn about the three great Western ethical philosophers, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill. Begin by viewing the lecture below. Once you are finished with the lecture, read the Singer and Hardin articles–likely two of the most controversial essays you will ever read and discuss. Try and grasp the key points of each article, and the arguments that each thinker makes to justify his view.
In your journal, discuss which ethical system you agree with more–that of Aristotle, Kant, or Mill–and why. Then discuss whether you agree with Hardin or Singer, and why. How might your answers to these two questions be connected?
Ethics: An Introduction
1. Singer, Peter. “The Singer Solution to World Poverty,” The New York Times Magazine, September 5, 1999
2. Hardin, Garrett. “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor,” Psychology Today, September 1974
Introductions and initial discussion
WEEK TWO ASSIGNMENT:
Watergate AND the Plumbers
1. Read the prompt.
2. Participate in the first online session.
3. Complete the reading.
4. Respond in your journal and post on the discussion page.
What do Aristotle, Kant, and Mill have to say about real-life leadership decisions? How can we use their philosophies to inform the choices we make?
This week you will meet one of the 20th century’s pivotal American figures, Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh. A former senior White House official, he is most famous for directing President Richard Nixon’s infamous Special Investigations Unit, better known as the “Plumbers.” You can read more about the Plumbers in a New York Times op-ed that Krogh wrote here. Krogh’s decision to authorize the break-in at Dr. Lewis Fielding’s office, in order to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, began a course of historical events that led to the downfall of the Nixon Administration. Krogh eventually pled guilty to criminal conspiracy and spent time in prison.
Today, Krogh devotes his life to ensuring that 21st century leaders do not make the same mistakes that he has made. With this goal in mind, he has developed The Integrity Zone as a teaching tool.
What do you think of The Integrity Zone? How does it connect to last week’s assignments? Do you agree with how Bud applies it when he gives advice to the Bush and Obama Administrations (see Readings)? Is it a useful tool, or is it unhelpful? Why? In our online session this week, we will apply everything we have learned so far to a particularly difficult real-life scenario that Bud faced while working in the White House.
1. Krogh, Bud. “Memo to the Bush White House Staff,” The Christian Science Monitor, February 12, 2001.
2. Krogh, Bud. “For Obama and other public servants, three tests of integrity,” The Christian Science Monitor, January 20, 2009.
Krogh, Bud. “Life Lessons from a White House Plumber,” Fresh Air Interview, NPR, September 17, 2007.
week three assignment:
Rwanda and leadership during crisis
1. Read the prompt.
2. Watch the documentary and post on the discussion page.
3. Participate in the online session.
4. Write in your journal and post on the discussion page.
How do ethical leaders respond in times of crisis? We saw one answer to this question last week when we read the BIA case study and spoke with Bud Krogh. This week we tackle one of the most frustrating and upsetting episodes in human history: the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
This week you will meet Carl Wilkens, the only American to stay behind during the genocide. Wilkens (who is featured in the documentary assigned below), faced a series of chilling and inspiring life-and-death ethical dilemmas during his time in Rwanda. Since his return to the United States, he has dedicated his life to preventing genocide and educating young people.
The documentary we are asking you to watch, Ghosts of Rwanda, contains graphic images of genocide. Please note that it is OK to close your eyes or cover your ears for a few moments if you need to, and that we can provide you with an alternate assignment if you wish. You may feel that writing in your journal after watching the film is helpful.
Ghosts of Rwanda, PBS Frontline, 2004.
Carl Wilkens (bio available here)
1. Wilkens, Carl. I’m Not Leaving, (self-published), 2011.
2. Kristof, Nicholas. “Saying No To Killers,” The New York Times, July 21, 2004 (a column about Wilkens; remember to skip past the advertisements to see the entire piece)
3. Wilkens, Carl. “Interview, Carl Wilkens,” PBS Frontline, 2004 (this is a more complete interview between Wilkens and the documentary filmmakers)
WEEK four ASSIGNMENT:
the hiv/aids crisis
1. Read the prompt
2. Complete the readings
3. Participate in the online seminar, discussion board, and article share
4. Complete your portion of the collaborative policy memo
Prompt: What are the impacts of PEPFAR, both in the country that you will be studying this week, and its effectiveness overall? How are the medical realities and the social impact of HIV/AIDS connected? What has been the impact of HIV/AIDS on our global community? How has it changed the way that we think about society’s problems and whose responsibility it is to tackle them?
Your goal this week is to write a policy memo to the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, the administrator of PEPFAR, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, and how it should budget its money for fiscal year 2013 and write a convincing memo in support of those needs.
You will be participating in an online seminar with Justin Goforth, Director of the Medical Adherence Unit and STD Services at the Whitman-Walker Clinic of Washington, D.C., in order to learn about the relationship between HIV/AIDS and the societal factors that affect the pathology of the disease. Following the seminar, you will be assigned a group and a PEPFAR country – a representative of your group will set up a short phonecall with the appropriate contact at the embassy of that country, in order to learn more about the needs that they have in fighting the virus.
You will then complete a research article swap and discussion on our board, posting your responses to the prompt and using the board as planning space for your policy memo, due on Sunday.
1. “The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)“, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2011.
2. Castro, Arachu, and Farmer, Paul. “Understanding and addressing AIDS-related stigma: from anthropological theory to clinical practice in Haiti,” American Journal of Public Health, 2005.
3. Isbell, Mike. “The Money Trail: Financing the Global AIDS Response,” PBS Frontline, 2006.
END OF UNIT ONE
Click here to go to Unit Two.