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Ethics Class Asks Tough Questions and Preps Students to Give Tough Answers

Patricia Morris says most students wait until the very last moment to take her course.

Philosophy, critical thinking, ethics and reasoning, all part of PHIL250, is a course she says that students say they fear.

 “Logic is hard. You have to consider questions that you might not want to know the answers to, like, where am I going in the afterlife,” Morris said. “If I can get students to relax and have that discussion they usually find they enjoy it.”

But many students, especially those in medical fields, find that the questions posed in Morris’ classes are applicable in their daily job.

“Lots of students in nursing can answer tough questions that patients ask,” Morris said. “The ethics classes help them connect with patients. It’s a really valuable subject.”

Students in philosophy and critical thinking classes should not expect a lot of reading but there are discussion topics every week.

Morris said the discussion topics help stretch students' thought process.

“The one we are doing right now is five people are tied to one track and they have to argue whether the train swerve to hit one in oncoming traffic or hit the five. It’s kind of an impossible dilemma. It makes them really think about the value of life. Is sparing five people better than one?”

Grades are given not based on what side of the debate students argue but rather whether they followed instructions, Morris said.

“Did you meet all the discussion requirements? It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with the scenario,” she said.

Students also complete a portfolio project and write theme papers about an ethical topic of their choosing.

 


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