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If you are aware of, care about, and
practice ethical behavior in the context of your own disciplinary
expertise, you are in a good position to design and teach an E-focus
course. E-focus courses represent a balance between objectifying
ethics as a scholarly topic—learning what particular moral
philosophers said about ethics, for example—and the skills involved
in the practice of ethical decision making.
There is no standard approach. So
far, a number of distinct types of E-course has been proposed,
accepted and successfully taught. Here are some of the categories
that we have seen as emerging from the proposals:
Code-based E-courses take as a
central text for the course an explicit code of professional ethics.
Successful courses of this type do not simply teach the rules but
emphasize the complexities and hard decisions that emerge when the
rules are applied in difficult situations.
Community practice-based courses
delineate the ethical concerns in a particular community that are
not explicitly codified or are only partially codified. An example
would be the ethics of scientific research. Here again, pitfalls and
potential double-binds force the student to think ethically rather
than just follow a rule.
courses may not identify a specific community but may point out
ethical dimensions of ordinary practices that we all engage in. For
example, participation as a consumer or audience member in economic,
cultural performance, or political activities in the public sphere
may involve ethical choices that are taken for granted.
Critical ethics courses tend
to focus on the more intense issues that have become highly
polarized and involve criticism of the status quo in economic,
political, and cultural life. For example, current and historical
practices that involve a strong sense of injustice, exploitation,
and abuse have obvious ethical implications. When the ethical choice
is obvious and it is clear that one choice is bad and another good,
however, complex ethical decision making may not be involved. A good
E-focus course will raise ethical awareness of the issue and
challenge the student to confront his or her own certainty about the
choices involved and create a class atmosphere in which diverse
ideas are encouraged.