Ethics and the Cultivation of Character

In this seminar, Dr. Dutmer will provide a practical, hands-on teaching seminar and workshop on teaching ethics to young people (especially high schoolers), at a time in their lives when they are gripped by visions of their future-oriented selves. He will do this by drawing on his own Ethics courses for 11th graders at the Culver Academies (Culver, Indiana).

This seminar will explore activities like engaging students in discussion on what “the good life” might be, and what we think the virtues and vices might consist of through Socratic dialoguing; reading and reflecting on community virtues and values in the works of Aristotle, Confucius, and classics of Africana, Feminist, Indian, and Indigenous philosophy; and combining this enriching philosophical reflection with contemporary research in philosophy, Social Emotional Learning, social psychology, socoiology, and critical race theory to confront bias, injustice, and real-world ethical problems. We will lean on the Aristotelian notion of ethics as centrally enacted and practiced, and invite students to activate their ethical reflections with real-world, identifiable, evidenced action. We do this through compiling evidence of our ethical action--we may display courage in a YouTube video; humanity in a group photo with like-minded friends at a protest; wisdom in an essay on a vital ethical issue; moderation in our sleep regimen for the week. Together, this reflection and practice form a rich and powerful introduction to the good life and its connection to the cultivation of character.