Course Description and Learning Objectives
The Objective of the course is to gain a general understanding of what we really mean by the terms ethics, values and morals and to put the terms into context theoretically as well as practically within the world of work. Additionally, the course is designed to explore what they mean in the context of an Aboriginal or First Nations environment.
This course has been formatted quite differently than the other AFOA on-line courses. Each lesson has a discussion paper that presents the material and is written by the instructor; a series of required as well as suggested readings (either attached in a word or pdf format or identified as site links); at least one set discussion question per lesson; and one written assignment. The course content has been divided into four lessons:
- the first lesson begins with a fairly general exploration of the theoretical and philosophical meanings of the subject and begins to explore the theories in the broader context of today’s work environment;
- the second lesson focuses on the work environment, the role of leadership in establishing and maintaining an ethical workplace as well as examining how certain policies, procedures and organizational elements (or blocks) can be developed and implemented to support an ethical work environment;
- the third lesson examines actual Codes of Ethics, how they are developed, different types of Codes, and how various organizations have developed and customized Codes for their use;
- the fourth and final lesson compares the notion of ethics as put forward in the western sense (as discussed in the first three lessons) to how they occur in an Aboriginal or First Nations context, what is different about how traditional notions of respect and non-interference to name a few, form the basis of “native ethics.”
Unlike a more applied course (like accounting, law, or statistics), ethics is a much more abstract subject but you do not need to be a philosophy major or have studied any philosophical writings to do this course. All you need is an interest in asking “what if” questions, an interest in learning to think a bit differently, and, an interest in seeking new ways of seeing the world.
Taking a course on ethics won’t make you “ethical,” what it will do is give you some tools to begin to measure for yourself if what you do and how you act is ethical by your own standards. It should also give you tools to help guide others, individually and as part of an organization, to behave ethically. Also remember that sometimes just asking a “what if” question may not result in a clear or even a complete answer; sometimes just the act of asking the question begins to move the discussion forward and help work toward expanding your overall way of thinking.
Another very important point to understand is there is no quick fix or easily adopted Code of Ethics that you or your organization can adopt to solve past or current behaviours. Creating an organization you are proud of, begins with each individual and by taking this course you will begin the process (one person at a time) to building an ethical and visionary place to work.
Course Completion and grading
The course has been divided into four lessons, with all the study materials provided for you to download. Each lesson essay and the assigned articles are required readings and should be, wherever appropriate, referred to in the on-line discussion and in the written assignments. The purpose of the on-line discussion in each lesson is to provide you with the opportunity to express your opinion, share your experiences, as well as to present an argument and or to disagree with a position put forward by another student. The discussion however, must remain focused and never become personal. Remember there no absolute rights or wrongs in a discussion about philosophy, there are only opinions. There are better and worse responses however, as measured by the way you use the material and the extent to which you follow your own (or the required) questions through to their conclusion.
The breakdown in marks is as follows:
- 20% for each of the four written assignments
- 20% for on-line discussion postings