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Ethics on the Edge: Business, Non-Profit Organizations, Government, and Individuals (PUBLPOL 234)

Olomu, M. (TA)
Mullen, B. (TA)
Liautaud, S. (PI)
Section Number
(PUBLPOL 134, PUBLPOL 234 - 3 credits; Ways - ER; Same as LAW 7020) The objective of this course is to explore the increasing ethical challenges in a world in which technology, global risks, and societal developments are accelerating faster than our understanding and the law can keep pace. We will unravel the factors contributing to the seemingly pervasive failure of ethics today among organizations and leaders across all sectors: business, government, non-profit, and academia. A framework for ethical decision-making underpins the course. There is significant space for personal reflection and forming your own views on a wide range of issues. Prominent guest speakers will attend certain sessions interactively. The relationships among ethics and technology, culture, leadership, law, and global risks (inequality, privacy, financial system meltdown, cyber-terrorism, climate change, etc.) will inform discussion. A broad range of international topics might include: designer genetics; civilian space travel (Elon Musk's Mars plans); social media (Facebook Cambridge Analytica, on-line sex trafficking, monopolies); new devices (e.g. Amazon Alexa in hotel rooms); free speech on University campuses; opioid addiction; AI (from racism to the work challenge and beyond); corporate and financial sector scandals (Theranos, Wells Fargo fraudulent account creation, Volkswagen emissions testing manipulation); new corporate challenges (Google selling drones to the military and Facebook's new Libra crypto currency); and non-profit sector ethics challenges (NGOs engagement with ISIS and sexual misconduct in humanitarian aid [Oxfam case]). Final project in lieu of exam on a topic of student's choice. Attendance required. Class participation important, with multiple opportunities to earn participation credit beyond speaking in class. Strong emphasis on rigorous analysis, critical thinking and testing ideas in real-world contexts. Note that this course will require one make-up evening session on a Wednesday or Thursday in early May in lieu of the final class session on June 5. Permission numbers are required for enrollment and will be granted via application at Applications will be accepted March 1-9. The course offers credit toward Public Policy core requirements (if taken in combination with PUBLPOL 103F) and Science, Technology, and Society majors, and it satisfies the undergraduate Ways of Thinking - ER requirement. The course is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduates will not be at a disadvantage. Everyone will be challenged. Students taking the course for Ways credit and Public Policy majors taking the course to complete the core requirements must obtain a letter grade. Others may take the course for a letter grade or C/NC. Students seeking credit for other majors should consult their departments.
Letter or Credit/No Credit
Academic Career
Course Tags
Political and Moral Philosophy
Design of Public Institutions
Academic Year
Section Days
Start Time
1:30 PM
End Time
3:20 PM
Lathrop 282