Course Description

"Ethical Practice: Professionalism, Social Responsibility, and the Purpose of the Corporation" is designed as an introduction to ethics in business, with a focus on business management. Over 13 sessions, students will have the opportunity to explore theoretical concepts in business ethics, as well as cases that represent the challenges they will likely face as managers; they will also have the opportunity to work with guest faculty and business and other professional practitioners. Individual sessions will take the form of moderated discussion, with occasional short lectures from the instructor.

"Ethical Practice" walks students through three ever-wider circles of ethical complexity:

  1. Individual, professional commitments
  2. The rights and responsibilities of corporations
  3. The social, ethical underpinnings of business as an activity

We seek to define terms central to each of these circles, culminating in a brief historical assessment of business and capital in the early 21st century.

Course Requirements

Students will be graded on:

Participation in class discussions 40%
An introductory 2-page individual paper 5%
Five weekly 3- to 4-page team papers (5% each) 25%
One 7- to 10-page paper submitted at the end of the semester, in which students reflect on the evolution of their views during the half-semester 30%

Writing Assignments

This section offers a brief introduction to the writing assignments students will prepare during the course of H2 for 15.965. The assignments take two forms: individual hard copy, and team electronic submissions. Students will submit:

  1. Individual writing assignments:
    • The first writing assignment, due two days after Ses #2, is an individual project; two pages, double-spaced, due as hard copy at the instructor's office. This assignment represents 5% of your grade.
    • The first paper will serve as the basis for your final, longer paper (7-10 pages, double-spaced), to be submitted as hard copy in the last class. This assignment represents 30% of your grade.
  2. Team writing assignments:
    • Five team assignments, each due on a Friday by 5 pm. The specific topics will be indicated in the study questions for the Wednesday class preceding the assignment. These will be due two days after sessions #4, #5, #7, #9, and #11. Each of these assignments is worth 5% of your individual grade.
    • Team Process: the TA for 15.965, Kara Penn, will randomly compose teams of 5 students each following the second class; these teams will continue for the duration of H2.

In all cases, the topic will correlate with the subject of one of our Wednesday classes. During the 48 hours following these class discussions, the teams will meet to discuss the assigned topic and compose an appropriate 3- to 4-page, double-spaced response. The response is to be submitted electronically, by 5 pm on the specified Friday.

Each member of the 5-person team will be responsible for writing one of the five team assignments, which he or she will sign; the four other members of that team are required to contribute to the reflection that generates the paper, and to confirm their participation; failure to contribute will result in a "0" for that assignment.