We are constantly faced with making choices. Some of these may be trivial, such as what outfit to wear today, but some will be related to much more serious issues, even involving life and death. We offer that all decisions we make are fundamental to our character, and that they will shape the kind of people we become. This is why decisions have to be made carefully, and with ethics in mind.
While there are not usually simple answers to our questions and to subsequent decision-making, this does not mean there is NO answer, or that ethics is of no value. Understanding ethical implications takes more time, more reflection, more critical thinking, and more discussion with others--especially with people you admire.
Sometimes in spite of all our efforts to clarify an issue where laws, policies or guidelines are unclear, we may still not know what to make of a situation. In this case, and if an urgent decision has to be made, we can encourage our students to do their best. As long as we do that, all we can be charged with is a mistake or an error of judgment. Ethics cannot make us infallible, but it can sensitize us to how commonly we are confronted by ethical issues, so we recognize them more readily, and think about them more honestly. In the long run we will become better people as a result.
Many times ethics and ethical decision-making seem out of the scope of a person’s day-to-day life, but the reality is that seemingly "insignificant" decisions can have larger ethical implications. Take, for example, what we choose to eat. This decision can have complex ethical consequences, such as to environmental and economic sustainability, as well as impact to our health.
Teaching Strategy: Using Infographics
Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system's ability to see patterns and trends.
What Does Your Ethical Hamburger Look Like?
Make the infographic available to your students, and have them brainstorm alternatives or solutions to create a more ethical hamburger, and understand the Sustainability Principle in ethics (or acting so as to preserve the resources available for future generations). They should consider the following questions:
- How will their choices affect the price of the hamburger?
- How will their choices affect jobs?
- How will their choices affect the environment?
- How will their choices affect health?
"Just Fries, Please"