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Student suggestion results in new ethics minor

March  20, 2013

In 2009, Augustana student Timothy Faith-Rosley (Class of 2011) asked his Christian ethics professor, Dr. Laura Hartman, why the college didn’t offer a minor in ethics. Dr. Hartman wondered the same, and Faith-Rosley’s question spurred a three-year collaboration between the departments of religion and philosophy to draft a curriculum and gain approval of a 21-credit minor in ethics at Augustana.

The ethics minor is a perfect fit for a small liberal arts college, according to Dr. Tim Bloser, associate professor of philosophy at Augustana. “Ethics asks us to examine carefully the values that we hold, and to ask whether we value the right things. Ultimately, this has great importance for helping us to decide how we ought to live our lives.”

While an ethics program is rare among colleges in the Midwest, Dr. Hartman thinks the study of ethics, which concerns the study of right and wrong, good and bad—and the reasoning behind such judgments—is highly appropriate for students in any discipline. Students in public-focused fields such as business, education, law or the health professions are excellent candidates for an ethics minor.

“When you deal with the public, you’re dealing with people who are vulnerable and valuable, and who deserve to be treated ethically,” she said.

“Whenever new technology is introduced, there are new ethical questions,” said Dr. Hartman. “How should we think about drone warfare? Is it okay to select the genes I want my child to have? Does agricultural technology feed the world, or harm the planet? Even Facebook raises issues -- who should I 'friend'? What should I share? Are there legal issues? We need ethics in order to think well about these problems.”

Future employers of students who minored in ethics will know these graduates have the experience to address such questions rationally and readily. Although Faith-Rosley graduated too soon to earn an ethics minor, Lillian Pickens ’14 added the minor during winter term. Pickens chose a major in religion specifically because of her interest in ethics.

“I’m thrilled that the minor incorporates both the religion department and the philosophy department because it provides different approaches and perspectives,” Pickens said. “I would encourage more students to consider the ethics minor because it addresses challenging questions in our society, and provides many options for personal growth.”

Sam Schlouch
Director, Public Relations and Arts Promotion
(309) 794-7833
samschlouch@augustana.edu