Ethics Unwrapped Blog

Sustainability & CSR

Sustainability describes the ability to maintain various systems and processes — environmentally, socially, and economically — over time. Sustainability originated in natural resource economics, but has since gained broader currency in terms of sustainable development and social equality.

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, usually refers to a company’s commitment to practice environmental and social sustainability and to be good stewards of the environment and the social landscapes in which they operate.

Some companies and economists rejected the idea of CSR because it implied an obligation to society and future generations beyond those contained in the binding legal requirements of business. However, most companies now embrace some notion of CSR.

Approaches to CSR vary. Some companies invest in CSR as reputation management or to sustain the profitability of a company, and some invest in CSR out of a sense of moral obligation to society. These resources focus on sustainability and CSR primarily in terms of moral obligation, and offer insight into ethics concepts relevant to economic sustainability, environmental sustainability, and social equity.

Begin by viewing the suggested videos for an introduction of concepts that are basic to sustainability and CSR, such as determining what factors to favor in ethical decisions, the impact of intangible factors in ethical dilemmas, and best practices for developing ethical culture in organizations.

View additional videos to learn about the ways that incentives affect economics, how the slippery slope leads to degradation, why “framing” matters, and the hallmarks of fair and equal representation. Additional videos introduce behavioral biases that impact ethical decision-making, such as the tendency to switch values based on our role and the importance of loss aversion in making moral choices.

To prompt conversation, use the discussion questions which follow each video. Each video has teaching notes for details on the ethics concept, and (often) assignment suggestions.

Read the case studies for a variety of examples to start your class discussion on issues related to economic and environmental sustainability and social equity. The recommended case studies cover these topics across a wide range of disciplines and examine sustainability and CSR in terms of fair business practices, environmental policies, advertising, consumer goods, equal representation, and freedom of speech.

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Science, Medicine & Research

Researchers and practitioners in the natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, and medicine face an ethical responsibility to their research subjects, clients, and patients, as well as a duty to ethically and accurately report complex information and share data.

Professional Codes of Conduct often exist to support scientists and health care providers, but professionals in these fields must often make ethical judgments that fall outside of such guidelines.

These resources explore ethics concepts and dilemmas related to research in the sciences and the practice of health care in addition to a broader array of topics that may impact ethical decision-making in these fields.

Begin by viewing the suggested videos for an introduction to ethics concepts most applicable to working in the sciences and health care fields, such as the self-serving bias and the distinction between a subject of moral worth and a moral agent. To dig deeper, watch additional videos to learn about the behavioral ethics biases, such as the slippery slope and loss aversion, that may influence research design and impact data reporting. Other videos explain biases and pressures, such as conflict of interest, that challenge professionals in every field.

To prompt conversation, use the discussion questions which follow each video. Each video has teaching notes for details on the ethics concept, and (often) assignment suggestions.

Read the case studies for real-world examples of both practice-related and research-related ethical dilemmas in science and medicine. To go further, answer the case study discussion questions and sketch the ethical decision-making process outlined in the case. The case studies can start your class discussion on ethics.

To explore further, watch “related” videos and read their corresponding case studies. Many of the ethics concepts covered by Ethics Unwrapped operate in tandem with each other, so the more you watch, the greater your understanding of ethical issues.

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Professional Ethics

Professionals work in a wide variety of settings and across many different industries including business, science, medicine, education, art, and public service. Many professions have Codes of Conduct that specify ethical behavior and expectations particular to that field. In addition, professionals must often make ethical judgments in their area of specialty that falls outside their specific Code of Conduct.

Professionals often need to apply moral reasoning to their interactions with co-workers, clients, and the general public. These resources offer insights that apply to a wide range of professionals as they seek to develop standards of ethical behavior in their careers.

Begin by viewing the recommended videos for an introduction to key ethics topics that commonly emerge in professionals’ careers, such as making ethical decisions based on the role we’re playing at work. To dig deeper, watch the Being Your Best Self series to learn the four components of ethical action. To help strengthen your ethical decision-making skills, watch the additional videos about behavioral ethics biases that can often lead to making poor choices.

To prompt conversation, use the discussion questions which follow each video. Each video has teaching notes for details on the ethics concept, and (often) assignment suggestions.

Read the case studies for examples of professionals facing tough ethical decisions or ethically questionable situations in their careers in teaching, science, politics, and social services. To go further, answer the case study discussion questions and sketch the ethical decision-making process outlined in the case. The case studies can start your class discussion on ethics.

To explore more, watch “related” videos and read their corresponding case studies. Many of the ethics concepts covered by Ethics Unwrapped operate in tandem with each other, so the more you watch, the greater your understanding of ethical issues.

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Organizational Ethics

Ethics is key to successful organizations of all types, from community groups to non-profits to professional associations and corporations. All organizations face ethical challenges in their management structure, working environments, leadership style, and the objectives that they strive to achieve.

A significant goal for behavioral ethics research is to find ways to structure organizations in order to make it easier for people to do the right thing and harder for them to do the wrong thing.

These resources explore a variety of behavioral ethics concepts that, if known, can help to develop and sustain ethical organizational culture. Additionally, this section explores the skills necessary to be an ethical and effective team member.

Begin by watching the suggested videos for an introduction to the pressures people face in organizations, such as the tendency to be like those around them and the desire to please authority. To dig deeper, watch the additional videos for an overview of the psychological biases, such as framing and role morality, which can hamper ethical decision-making and action on an organizational and individual level.

To prompt conversation, use the discussion questions which follow each video. Each video has teaching notes for details on the ethics concept, and (often) assignment suggestions.

The leadership videos offer best practices for creating ethical culture and explore the specific biases that leaders of organizations face. Watch the whole Giving Voice to Values Series for a detailed approach of how values-driven leadership supports ethical organizational culture.

Read the case studies to examine ethical challenges in a variety of organizations, including nonprofits, government, and the private sector. To dig deeper, answer the case study discussion questions and sketch the ethical decision-making process outlined in each case. The case studies can start your class discussion on ethics.

To explore further, watch “related” videos and read their corresponding case studies. Many of the ethics concepts covered by Ethics Unwrapped operate in tandem with each other, so the more you watch, the greater your understanding of ethical issues.

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Media, Arts & Culture

Countless ethical challenges are reflected in media, arts, and culture: from biased framing of a news report in journalism or issues of free speech for performing artists to copyright infringement or the perpetuation of negative stereotypes.

These teaching resources look at the ways in which our understanding of mass media and communications, and their influence on culture, have on the ethical frameworks we use to process dilemmas and explore ethical challenges in media, arts, and our society more generally.

Begin by viewing the suggested videos. They introduce concepts such as fair representation, cultural relativism, and appropriation. For a deeper dive, watch the other videos to learn about the behavioral biases, such as conformity bias and ethical fading, at the root of many ethical dilemmas. These biases in particular undermine our ability to see ethical issues in our culture clearly, let alone represent them to others in arts or the media.

To prompt conversation, use the discussion questions which follow each video. Each video has teaching notes for details on the ethics concept, and (often) assignment suggestions.

Read the case studies for real-world examples of ethical challenges in artistic and cultural appropriation, cultural relativism, and journalism ethics. To dig deeper answer the case study discussion questions and sketch the ethical decision-making process outlined in each case. The case studies can start your class discussion on ethics.

To explore the resources further, watch “related” videos and read their corresponding case studies. Many of the ethics concepts covered by Ethics Unwrapped operate in tandem with each other, so the more you watch, the greater your understanding of ethical issues.

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Leadership

Leadership comes in many forms and is often defined in just as many ways. These teaching resources define leadership as the ability for individuals or groups to guide others ethically and effectively in order to bring about positive change.

These resources offer insight into the particular biases that leaders face as well as the biases and pressures that affect group dynamics. It also includes best practices for leaders. Everyone should develop the tools and skills necessary to become effective, ethical leaders regardless of their role within their organization.

The challenges specific to hierarchical leadership structures are also addressed. For instance, the moral example set by leaders has a significant influence on the behavior of followers. Research shows that both good and bad behavior is infectious. So it’s critical that leaders set good examples in all aspects of their work and lives.

Begin by viewing the suggested videos for general topics such ethical leadership, the biases that leaders are prone to, and rising to moral challenges. Then watch the Being Your Best Self series for the four components of ethical action. To dig deeper, watch the videos about the behavioral ethics biases that impact decision-making and can lead to poor choices.

To prompt conversation, use the discussion questions which follow each video. Read the video teaching notes for more details and (often) assignment suggestions.

For a detailed approach to values-driven leadership, watch the whole Giving Voice to Values Series, and mine the many teaching resources included and linked to in the notes.

Read case studies for a look at different leadership styles, including examples of both ethical and unethical leadership in business, finance, politics, and history. To dig deeper answer the case study discussion questions and sketch the ethical decision-making process outlined in each case. The case studies can start your class discussion on ethics.

To explore the resources further, watch “related” videos and read their corresponding case studies. Many of the ethics concepts covered by Ethics Unwrapped operate in tandem with each other, so the more you watch, the greater your understanding of ethical issues.

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Intro to Ethics Unwrapped

Currently, Ethics Unwrapped has five video series that cover broad topics such as behavioral ethics, general ethics, recent ethical blunders, and the principles of values-driven leadership:

  1. In it To Win features a 25-minute documentary exploring the internal biases and external pressures that super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff faced, which contributed to his downfall and conviction in one of the largest political scandals since Watergate. The series has 6 accompanying short videos.
  2. Concepts Unwrapped explores key concepts in behavioral ethics, business ethics, and general ethics. The series has 33 short videos.
  3. Giving Voice To Values introduces and illustrates the seven principles of values-driven leadership identified in Mary Gentile’s book of the same name. The series has 8 short videos.
  4. Ethics Defined is a glossary of ethics terms and concepts. The series has 51 animated videos, each two-minutes or less, and uses accessible language and relevant studies to define and explain these terms.
  5. Scandals Illustrated summarizes newsworthy scandals and points to an underlying ethics principles that likely played a role in the scandal. The series has 30 animated videos, one-minute each, and accompanying case studies with ethical insights, bibliographies, and discussion questions.

Begin by viewing the recommended videos. They introduce key ethics topics such as moral awareness and framing, relevant to many fields of study.

To prompt conversation, use the discussion questions which follow each video. Each video has teaching notes for details on the ethics concept, and (often) assignment suggestions.

Read the case studies for real-world examples of the key ethics concepts covered in the cast study’s corresponding video. To dig deeper, answer the case study discussion questions and sketch the ethical decision-making process outlined in the case. The case studies can start your class discussion on ethics.

Review the glossary and become familiar with each term and concept. Use this vocabulary to expand and enrich every conversation about ethics and leadership inside and outside the classroom.

To explore further, watch “related” videos and read their corresponding case studies. Many of the ethics concepts covered in Ethics Unwrapped operate in tandem with each other, so the more you watch, the greater your understanding of ethical issues.

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Behavioral Ethics

Behavioral ethics studies why people make the ethical (and unethical) decisions that they do in order to gain insights into how people can improve their individual ethical decision-making capacities and promote ethical culture in organizations.

Traditional philosophical approaches focus on defining moral theory and understanding the very concepts of right and wrong. Behavioral ethics, on the other hand, examines how we make moral decisions and offers insights into how we can be our best selves. It is a relatively new area of study drawing on research from fields such as behavioral psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology. Its findings show that people are often influenced, subconsciously, by psychological biases, organizational and social pressures, and situation factors that impact decision making and can lead to unethical action.

These teaching resources explore many of the concepts of behavioral ethics applicable to our everyday personal and professional lives, such as framing, role morality, and self-serving bias.

Begin by viewing the recommended videos for an overview of key behavioral ethics concepts. To dig deeper and learn about many of the additional psychological biases, organizational pressures, and situational factors that can cause anyone to goof up, watch additional videos, or the whole playlist.

To prompt conversation, use the discussion questions which follow each video. Read the video teaching notes for details and (often) assignment suggestions.

Read the case studies for examples of how business leaders, consumers, historical figures, and other professionals have been influenced by behavioral biases and organizational pressures when facing major moral challenges. To dig deeper, answer the case study discussion questions and sketch the ethical decision-making process outlined in each case. The case studies can start your class discussion on ethics.

To explore further, watch “related” videos and read their corresponding case studies. Many of the ethics concepts covered in Ethics Unwrapped operate in tandem with each other, so the more you watch, the greater your understanding of ethical issues.

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Law & Policy

The relationship between ethics, our legal system, and local, state, and federal policy is complex and sometimes obscure. While extensive scholarship on this relationship exists, this section offers resources that are geared toward the ways in which behavioral ethics and general ethics may influence law and policy as well as some pragmatic approaches to understanding contemporary issues.

For instance, one may have the legal right to do something, but the course of action itself may not be ethically justifiable. On rare occasions, a course of action may be ethical but not legal.

Begin by viewing the recommended videos for an introduction to topics related to the relationship between ethics and law. These include ideas like conflict of interest, moral agency, and justified harm, as well as some of the biases that can cause us to violate the laws and act unethically.

To prompt conversation, use the discussion questions which follow each video. Read the video teaching notes for more details and (often) assignment suggestions.

Read the case studies for examples of how laws and policies may affect particular populations in regards to religion, race, class, speech, and freedom of choice. To dig deeper answer the case study discussion questions and sketch the ethical decision-making process outlined in each case. The case studies can start your class discussion on ethics.

To explore further, watch “related” videos and read their corresponding case studies. Many of the ethics concepts covered in Ethics Unwrapped operate in tandem with each other, so the more you watch, the greater your understanding of ethical issues.

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