12 MDS 430: Ethics

Though this course is simply titled “Ethics,” we think of it more accurately as “Ethics of the Profession.” In other words, it is a study of how ethics are applied in both professional and personal ways in businesses, workplaces, organizations, or other professional environments. We purposefully say “Ethics of the Profession” so that there isn’t a specific profession named–because BAS/MDS students work in so many different professions, and we want to accommodate all of them.

In the course, students delineate how their profession of choice or future vocation interact with ethical systems and social responsibility, and they develop a decision-making framework for ethical dilemmas they face in their workplace now or in the future.

Students who do well challenging MDS 430: Ethics often work in positions in organizations in which they are tasked with making difficult decisions in which they must examine the ethical implications of their choice and the resulting outcomes, both personally and professionally. They must weigh all the facets of a workplace ethical decision, such as ethical theories, legal responsibilities, the prioritization of stakeholders, and corporate/organizational social responsibility. This experience with deep ethical consideration gives students a background in understanding their own professional and personal ethics, as well as the ethics of others.

Usually, students who challenge this course successfully have ongoing professional development in ethics and have studied ethical systems through workplace trainings and/or other study. Successful challenges have a deep understanding of organizational ethical systems and stances as well as their own personal ethics. They can articulate how different ethical systems interact and conflict.

The course has students outline their own Ethical Framework for making ethical decisions in the workplace; successful challenges can clearly demonstrate a similar ethical decision-making framework that the student has developed over their career or through training. The portfolio for this course requires students to detail the pathway they have taken to think through, research, consider, and arrive at a decision with large ethical implications. The challenge also asks students to demonstrate an understanding of how various ethical systems and frameworks are constructed even if they differ from the student’s own personal ethical system.


The textbook for MDS 430: Ethics is Business Ethics, Byars and Stanberry et. al.

It is freely available as an open access ebook at the link provided; at that link you can access different versions including online, PDF, print, and Kindle.

What this course is (and is not) about

MDS 430: Ethics is a study of Ethics that goes beyond a student’s personal views. It looks at ethics from a professional sense, oriented toward workplace environments and applying universal ethical standards and principles to the student’s work experience. Students in the course understand what makes up ethical stances and systems, beyond just a personal sense of “right and wrong.” Students should know and feel comfortable discussing different ethical stances and systems as models and frameworks.

In other words, the course is not about “being a good person” or “doing the right thing.” The definition of these varies widely between individuals. One can be a helpful neighbor, a dedicated parent, a good samaritan, or many other worthwhile things, but that doesn’t automatically equate to having college-level learning about Ethics from a wide perspective, nor how to apply those ethics at work. The course goes beyond personal attachments and viewpoints and discusses Ethics on a system-wide, society-wide level that includes an organization’s social responsibility, legal issues, stakeholder valuation, and more. It goes in-depth on the terminology and vocabulary of Ethics, and students work through many definitions and categories of Ethical Systems.

To challenge this course successfully, students need to know many different Ethical systems well, beyond just their own general sense of right and wrong. Students should be able to easily discuss different Ethical Systems, knowing their definitions and characteristics well. Students should have a good understanding of the theoretical frameworks that make up a human being’s ethics, and be able to apply those frameworks in a professional environment to both themselves and to others whose frameworks are vastly different.

To do well in this challenge, students need to demonstrate the ability to apply, analyze, and evaluate concepts of Ethics at a level equal to college coursework.  They need to know the specific names and definitions of ethical systems, and be able to give examples of how those systems are applied in the real world. Students should feel comfortable using empathy to explore an ethical system that is different from their own. They should be able to discuss Ethics both in terms of current events and personal experience, in hypothetical situations, and at a more holistic level. Finally, they should be able to create or recreate an ethical decision-making framework for professional situations that takes the many contextual factors into consideration.

Course Overview

MDS 430 Ethics examines universal ethical principles and standards practiced across various disciplines. We will discuss personal and professional conduct and social responsibility in light of existing ethical, moral, and social values. This course is designed to teach you how to construct and defend rational positions on ethical behavior and social responsibility. To this end, you will apply moral positions to real-life situations and cases.

This class is an incredible learning journey with the potential to change your life. Every single word we share in this online environment has an impact on each person taking this class. This includes you, as well as those with whom you are sharing this learning experience. Respect, Listening, Learning, and Encouraging are four values this course deems vitally important to creating a healthy learning environment. Putting in the effort to complete all of the learning activities on time and being diligent in generating high-quality work will lead you to great success in this course.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  1. Assess various ethical perspectives and their efficacy in solving significant personal and professional dilemmas.
  2. Describe and critically evaluate ethical systems with a view to application in real-world situations.
  3. Apply various ethical concepts and perspectives to personal and professional decisions by recognizing legal and ethical issues, reasoning through the consequences of different courses of action, and promoting social responsibility.
  4. Gather academically substantial information to support a specific point of view on a relevant ethical topic or issue (relating to your profession of choice).
  5. Emphasize connections between topics such as ethical theories, legal responsibilities, the prioritization of stakeholders, and corporate social responsibility.
  6. Produce evidence of increased awareness of ethical responsibilities which promote high ethical standards.
  7. Develop an original framework for ethical decision-making which integrates personal values, past experience, select ethical theories, and current and/or future vocations.


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