Workshop on Teaching Professional Ethics through Experiential Learning: The Georgetown Approach

Teaching business ethics in an effective way presents a difficult challenge. Courses that focus on abstract philosophical ethics employ terminology and methodology that are not familiar to most business students. Yet courses that employ the strictly empirical methodology of the social sciences lack a truly normative core. Further, learning about ethics in the abstract is often far removed from the difficult ethical decisions business people confront in the real world of business.

At the McDonough School of Business, we have developed a method of teaching business ethics through experiential learning that is truly normative, communicated in terms readily understood by business students, and involving actual ethical decision-making on the part of the students. We have found that our approach results in students becoming more invested in the course and more committed to successfully resolving the ethical issues that confront them in a business environment.

The Workshop on Teaching Professional Ethics through Experiential Learning: The Georgetown Approach is designed to acquaint those who will be teaching business ethics in both business schools and philosophy departments with the various individual techniques we have developed and train those who are interested in how to use them in an integrated manner to create a highly effective business ethics course.

This year’s workshop will be held at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business on June 1 through 3, 2017.  To apply, please send a CV and a short cover letter before February 15, 2017, to the director of GISME, Michael Douma, at  The Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics will cover all costs of attendance and provide a stipend of $500 for selected applicants.

Draft Agenda

Thursday, June 1:   7:00 pm:  Dinner

Friday, June 2

Session 19:00 am – 10:30 am: The Principles Approach

A description of how business ethics can be taught utilizing true normative principles derived from the nature of the activity of doing business in a market. This does not require the introduction of abstract features of moral philosophy, overcomes the problem of ethical relativism, and prevents the course from degenerating into an exploration of people’s beliefs about what is right and wrong.

Session 2 – 11:00 am – 12:30 pm: The Business Project

A description of how to structure a business ethics course with a semester long group project that causes the students to become personally invested in both learning to avoid and resolving ethical issues that can arise in business.

Lunch – 12:30pm – 1:45 pm

Session 3 – 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm: The Ethics Project

A description of how to make a business ethics course relevant to the real world by empowering students to work outside of the classroom to attempt to effect a positive change in the world while learning important principles of ethics.

Session 4 – 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm: Experiential Learning

A description of how to structure a business ethics course so that to complete the course students must do more than merely learn about ethical issues in the abstract, but must resolve actual ethical problems that are built into the course’s work assignments.

Dinner – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Saturday, June 3

Session 5 – 9:00 am – 10:30 am: Incorporating Moral Psychology into the Course

A description of how the insights of moral psychology can be incorporated into a business ethics course. All moral argument contain both a normative premise that prescribes proper behavior and an empirical premise that describes of the world and human beings actually function. The session is designed to show how to ensure that the empirical aspect ethical argumentation plays it proper role.

Session 6 – 11:00 pm – 12:30 pm: Interactive Exercises and Role-playing Scenarios

This session provides a series of in class interactive exercises and role-playing scenarios that illustrate the ethical principles introduced and provide practice in applying them to hypothetical situations.

 Lunch – 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm

 End of Workshop