Ethics: Weekly Voting

Each week the students are presented with a question. The question is taped to the wall and students use a sticky note to vote. They can choose one side or the other or in the middle.

The students are encouraged to rethink their vote throughout the class and change their vote if necessary. The purpose is to encourage deeper thinking instead of a quick superficial decision. Here are some examples:

#15 Week 5 (moved to begining of week 6): Rights and Justice Theories Challenge #1

Here is the Challenge as they received it:

#1 Unify the Islands (Distributive Justice and Legal Rights)- 3 Parts

Part 1: Distributive justice and resource allocation

The Islands will all unify to have 1 national Constitution. This will not take away any of the individual island’s autonomy. When the islands unify they will be given a start-up budget of $1,000,000 (1 million $$). You must determine how to meet the needs of your United Island Confederation using this budget.

Some questions to ask:

  • what are the needs of confederated islands? sewer, water, welfare, free health care, fire and rescue, electricity…
  • how will you distribute this money for these needs?
  • Will all the islands be treated equally or fairly? What if 1 island is wealthy, do they get less resources?

Part 2:

The islands must all agree on a constitution. You must include certain legal and natural rights. Some questions to address:

  1. How long do you want your constitution (The US is short, California’s is very long and spells everything out)?
  2. What natural rights should you include?
  3. Which legal rights should you include?
  4. Where are you willing to negotiate?

  Part 3:

When you come to class you must elect 1 person to represent your island in the confederation negotiations. Who will that be and what are they authorized to do without taking it back to the group.

The students were to think about Parts 1 and 2 at home, prepare for the class by reading and watching videos and then come ready to do Part 3. Most groups broke up the work and came back together with their portion completed. Here is a sample:

Island Budget

Morning Class:

They got frustrated throughout the negotiations because one island was high-tech and the other island wanted to remain primitive. The Morning class decided that they would not and could not unite.

 Night Class:

The night class had many different ideas about why they wanted to spend the money and were able to communicate that with al 5 islands. They came to a consensus on the budget within 40 minutes.

#14 Week 5: Rights and Justice Theories Challenge #2

We combined Rights and Justice because there are so many concepts that overlap. There were 2 Challenges but one was given as a homework prep assignment

The students decided to start with Challenge 2. The  second Challenge was to create Global Justice Awareness Videos. Here is the exact Challenge which they were given:

#2 Global Justice Awareness video (Global Justice and Natural Rights)

Choose a humanitarian issue and educate the public through a moving video.

You must incorporate natural rights and not legal rights.

You must incorporate Global Justice and not Distributive Justice.

Play for the class.

Vote on everyone’s presentation.

All the videos were done using PowerPoint, SlideRocket, IMovie, and Open Office. 5 of the 7 added sound and  automatically progressed through the slides like a movie. Here is a sample:


7. The Theories

The course will run 10 weeks. Each week we will look at a different ethical topic or theory. Here are the topics and theories for the 10 weeks.
1. Introduction
2. Good and Evil
3. Utilitarianism
4. Deontology
5. Rights and Justice
6. Virtue
7. Religion
8. Gender
9. Diversity
10. Wrap up