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Ethical and Civic Values


What does it mean to be a part of a community? How do our decisions, and those decisions of our leaders, affect those around us and society at large, not only now but in the future? Learn how different perspectives can influence our idea of what is ethical and how to think critically about how we make and justify private and public decisions and evaluate the actions of public leaders.

Learning Outcomes

These are the learning outcomes that are expected of students after completing a course.


Explain the contexts in which questions of justification arise.


Assess ethical values in terms of reasons offered.


Recognize different ethical perspectives and the distinctive approaches these perspectives bring to questions of value, evaluating ethical justifications for different ways of organizing civic and political communities.


Analyze the differences between personal ethical decisions and those bearing on the public and civic spheres.

Questions for Students

These are the types of questions you should be able to answer after completing a course.


How can people think fruitfully, individually and together, about how they should live their lives?


What is required to judge a standard or value as worthy of support?


How should we distinguish between prejudices and reasonable grounds for value judgments?


What considerations – stories, reasons, testimony, documents, data, et cetera – can justify our values and commitments, whether personal or social?

Recurring Capacities

Every focus capacity course includes the following activities:


Writing, totaling at least 10 pages in length or the intellectual equivalent


Presenting material to the class, smaller groups, or the public through oral presentations, webpages, or other means


Collaborating in pairs or groups to learn, design, solve, create, build, or research

These elements – referred to as “recurring capacities” – will help you repeatedly practice crucial skills for future study, life, and career success.

Course Offerings

There are a wide range of courses you can take to meet the Ethical and Civic Values focus capacity requirement. Here are a few examples:

CLAS 362

Faculty Resources

Any department may offer classes that fulfill any focus capacity as long as they meet the learning outcomes for that capacity.

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