Ethics Reading Courses

Take a deep dive into ethics, one book at a time

No matter how busy you are, you can work ethics into your schedule with a quarter-credit Prindle Ethics Reading Course. In these courses, you’ll read and discuss with your professor and classmates a single work to enhance your understanding of the field of ethics or an individual ethical issue. These quarter-credit ethics reading courses allow students to easily weave an ethics component throughout their curriculum while at DePauw. Consult the Schedule of Courses to register for one of these courses today!

Ethics Reading Courses Information

A professor and some of her students seated around a table in a heated discussion
Make ethics a part of your DePauw experience

You can find these courses listed in the Schedule of Courses just like any other class.

Classes meet for the first eight weeks of the semester.

Please note that the information below is subject to change. Consult the Schedule of Courses for the most accurate and updated information.

Fall 2023

For meeting times and the most up-to-date information on these courses, please consult the University’s Schedule of Courses.

Text: Rashad Shabazz, Spatializing Blackness: Architectures of Confinement and Black Masculinity in Chicago
Instructor: Aliyah Turner
Course Description: Ongoing debates around racial realism call for increasing our collective race consciousness. Still, there remains a gross and glaring underrepresentation of positive portrayals and depictions of Blackness in society, especially at the intersection of gender, class, and place. Blackness is more than a monolith or condemnable identity in society. From as early as the Transatlantic slave trade to the current overrepresentation of Black men in our carceral state, Black masculinity remains a contested identity that people still shy away from in discussions, conversations, and everyday interactions. The globalizing anti-Black sentiment is one that continues to stifle racial progress while promoting the illusion of a post-racial ideal – or that there is meritocracy within major institutions of power that remain pejorative. It’s important to reimagine Blackness and its intersection with masculinity as not only a racialized and gendered identity that we hold at the individual level, but as a worldview, a perspective of/on life, a history, a rich culture, and as something that uniquely constructs space in society for all peoples in and beyond the diaspora. The work of Rashad Shabazz examines how architectures of confinement, which represent a multitude of surveillance, coercion, and control tactics, intersect with Blackness, gender, and place. This course will offer students a new way of imagining Black masculinity while giving attention to its major construction sites, including history, politics, gender, and culture.
Meeting Time: First 8 Wednesday evenings of Fall 2023 semester

Text: Alvin E. Roth, Who Gets What–and Why
Instructor: Town Oh
Course Description: Much of what we buy and sell goes through commodity markets where prices connect sellers and buyers. There are other markets where prices cannot function and these are called “matching markets.” These are markets where a buyer is matched with a specific seller based on various preferences and monetary benefits are only secondary. The market for marriage, college admissions, and the organ donation market are few examples. In Who Gets What–and Why Dr. Alvin Roth discusses ways policy makers can design certain markets to function better by taking account of people’s incentives so that the “invisible hand” can do its work of allocating scarce resources. The book, although not heavily quantitative, shows how we can use game theory to solve many social problems.
Meeting Time: First 8 Thursday evenings of Fall 2023 semester

Text: Janet Yolen, Briar Rose
Instructor: Tamara Stasik
Course Description: Through a close reading of Janet Yolen’s banned and burned young adult novel Briar Rose (a rewriting of Sleeping Beauty in the context of the Holocaust), we will explore the ethical functions of fairy tales. Activities such as collaborative questioning, self-reflection, and creative writing will help us ask how a traditional fairy tale can be a tool for understanding not only our own lives but also the experiences of others, particularly when those experiences are painful or even untellable.
Meeting Time: First 8 Tuesday evenings of Fall 2023 semester

Text: Frans de Waal, The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates
Course Description: Do we need God to be good? In the absence of religious rules and precepts, is there something remaining in us to guide us toward moral choices? Or are we, at core, bad? This book considers if humans’ sense of morality comes from within rather than above–as a product of our evolution. Mixing ape studies with moral philosophy, the well-known primatologist Frans de Waal uses chimpanzees and bonobos to to gain insight into our sense of right and wrong now and in the past.
Meeting Time: First 8 Tuesday evenings of Fall 2023 semester

Text: Tricia Hersey, Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto
Instructor: Angela Castañeda
Course Description: What would it be like to live in a well-rested world? Does our worth reside in how much we produce? In Rest is Resistance, author Tricia Hersey suggests that we don’t have to be burned out or disconnected from ourselves or those around us – instead she invites us to consider how rest can be a form of justice. She approaches the notion of collective rest as a form of performance art, incorporating elements of Black liberation theology, Afrofuturism and poetry into her messaging. She asks us to consider the relationship between rest and privilege as well as legacies of exhaustion rooted in capitalism and white supremacy. Rest is a radical act, and Hersey’s work invites us to break free from “grind culture” by using rest as the starting point towards healing and justice.
Meeting Time: First 8 Tuesday evenings of Fall 2023 semester

Text: Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals
Instructor: Dahee Yun
Course Description: Do you love animals? Do you care about your health? Have you ever thought about the foods you eat? If you love animals, are interested in food, and want to contribute to a safe and healthy environment for yourself and others, including animals, this class will help you explore your concerns and your everyday practice. In this course, we will explore ethical consumption and respect for different lives, including ourselves, while considering the dilemma of “eating animals.” We want to hear your voice and believe you can make a better world.
Meeting Time: First 8 Wednesday evenings of Fall 2023 semester

Text: Bryan Garston, Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment
Instructor: Andrew Allsup
Course Description: What role ought rhetoric play in a democratic society that values pluralism, freedom of expression, and consensus while simultaneously demanding truth, legitimacy, and expert solutions to emergent problems? This course explores the ethical dilemmas that arise from these often-conflicting commitments through careful consideration of the affordances and dangers that pertain to the widespread dissemination of persuasive and conflicting discourses. Guiding our discussion will be Bryan Garsten’s book, Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment. In surveying this text, will explore a variety of ethical problems that pertain to philosophical positions that have sought to exclude or limit the influence of rhetoric out of concerns that it encourages demagoguery, nationalism, and partisanship while also considering those that defend it as a necessary feature of democratic life as the vehicle for achieving flexible, exigent, and otherwise prudent decisions on problems of common concern.
Meeting Time: First 8 Thursday evenings of Fall 2023 semester

Spring 2023

For meeting times and the most up-to-date information on these courses, please consult the Schedule of Courses.

Text: Nancy D. Campbell, JP Olsen, and Luke Walden, The Narcotic Farm: The Rise and
Fall of America’s First Prison for Drug Addicts

Instructor: JP Olsen
Meets the first 8 Mondays of the semester.

Text: Leigh Ann Wheeler, How Sex Became a Civil Liberty
Instructor: Sarah Rowley
Meets the first 8 Wednesdays of the semester.

Text: William Edward Soothill (Translator), The Analects
Instructor: Ying-Ju Chen
Meets the first 8 Mondays of the semester.

Text: Will Steacy, Photographs Not Taken: A Collection of Photographers’ Essays
Instructor: Cynthia O’Dell
Meets the first 8 Tuesdays of the semester.

Text: Shusaku Endo, Silence
Instructor: Jonathan Martin
Meets the first 8 Thursdays of the semester.

Text: Sabrina Strings, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia
Instructor: Natalia Vargas Márquez
Meets the first 8 Thursdays of the semester.

Text: Emma Saunders-Hastings, Private Virtues, Public Vices: Philanthropy and Democratic Equality
Instructor: Tucker Sechrest
Meets the first 8 Wednesdays of the semester.

Text: Michael J. Sandel, What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets
Instructor: David Alvarez
Meets the first 8 Tuesdays of the semester.

Text: Hal Herzog, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals
Instructor: Jessica Mejía
Meets the first 8 Wednesdays of the semester.

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