Classes + Workshops

Ethics Lab is Georgetown’s hub for creative ethics learning.

Our lab team partners with faculty across campus to infuse ethics into existing courses, to share successful bits of curricula from our ever-growing library of creative pedagogies, and to co-design flagship project-based courses that take advantage of the space, materials, mentorship and network of subject area and media experts.

We’ve also hosted intensive multipart workshops with research ethics experts from the FDA and NIH, summer sessions in bioethics for professionals, and are piloting a new series of professional development workshops aimed at middle and high-school teachers.

Interested in tapping into the lab as a resource? Get in touch with the lab team by email, or join our mailing list to be the first to hear about new offerings and opportunities.


Courses Offered in Ethics Lab – Spring 2018

PHIL-105-03 Bioethics

Decisions about reproduction/reproductive technologies, participation in research, treatment for mental health issues, use of genetic testing, care of older family members, choices for end-of-life care, and fulfilling obligations to others likely will arise in some form in each person’s life – whether for oneself or alongside loved ones or persons under one’s professional care. Through participation in this course, students will learn about and take part in ongoing bioethics discussions around classic and contemporary bioethics topics. Using framing and analysis tools from ethics and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics’ Ethics Lab, students will be better prepared to discuss and make decisions as healthcare consumers, biomedical research participants, or voting citizens. An overarching focus of the course will be to examine, critique and sometimes create text and media information that is available to the public about bioethics issues.

PHIL-110 Social Media & Democracy

The internet has radically changed the way people form beliefs, develop world views, and assess claims. Knowledge is in one sense more democratized, as traditional gatekeepers to news, science, and opinion have less power. Knowledge in another sense has become more elusive, as standards of evidence and vetting become vastly different; and theory building itself has changed. The 2016 election was influenced by the epistemology of the internet and the vulnerability of data: fake news, competing paradigms of evidence and expertise, Russian hacking of politically sensitive emails, and the effects of targeted newsfeeds. Given that most people access much of their information through digital means, the targeted flow of information threatens to divide our democracy. Is divided democracy inevitable or are there means for maintaining a robust democracy in the digital age? This course will examine questions of truth, democracy, and politics in the age of social media by drawing on contemporary case studies and philosophical tools from ethics, political philosophy, and epistemology.

PHIL-127-10, PHIL-127-20 Climate Change & Social Justice (core pathways)

Addressing the ramifications of climate change, already challenging, is made far more complex by its intersection with issues of global justice. Global inequalities impact the way people are affected by climate change, and raise profoundly difficult questions about how to distribute responsibilities for reducing carbon emissions. Assessing policy for mitigating climate change also raises challenging questions of intergenerational justice: how do we balance the needs of the global poor now with the needs of future generations?

IDST-330 Ethics Lab: Design Studio

Design has historically been a practice of shaping artifacts—of giving form to buildings, cities, products, clothing, graphics, etc. But the role that design plays in society is changing. Designers are increasingly found in leadership positions, working to shape new services, strategies, systems, and social change. Design methods and modes of thinking are rapidly being embraced as a driving force for innovation in business, government, education, and other sectors of society. While at the same time, the disruptive pace of cultural change provokes increasingly complex moral issues, adding to the challenge not simply of what to design, but how. This course introduces a foundation of theory and practice that will help equip students to flourish as responsible change agents in this emerging landscape. By engaging frameworks of applied ethics theory and design together, students will build competency in a transdisciplinary process, and develop the dispositions, habits of mind, and ways of seeing necessary to routinely shape the world.

Course Prerequisites: One Ethics course, such as a Core course (e.g. PHIL 010 or any course from PHIL 100 to PHIL 149).


In prior semesters:

  • Data Ethics, Maggie Little, spring 2017
  • Social Innovation in India, Ann Pendleton-Jullian, spring 2017
  • The University as a Design Problem, Randall Bass and Arjun Dhillon, spring 2017
  • Science & Society: Global Challenges, Francis Slakey, Allyson Anderson, and Arjun Dhillon, fall 2016
  • The University as a Design Problem II, Randall Bass and Arjun Dhillon, fall 2016
  • Foundations of Design, Arjun Dhillon, spring 2016
  • The University as a Design Problem, Randall Bass and Ann Pendleton-Jullian, spring 2016
  • Foundations of Design, Arjun Dhillon, spring 2016
  • Studio collaborative: Shaping National Science Policy, Francis Slakey and David Goldston, spring 2016
  • Studio collaborative: Introduction to Rhetoric, Matt Pavesich, spring 2016
  • The University as a Design Problem II, Randall Bass, fall 2015
  • Science & Society: Global Challenges, Francis Slakey, Allyson Anderson, and Arjun Dhillon, fall 2015
  • Philosophy 145: Robots, Animals, Fetuses, Hailey Huget, summer 2015
  • The University as a Design Problem, Randall Bass, spring 2015
  • Studio collaborative: Introduction to Bioethics, Maggie Little and Arjun Dhillon, spring 2015
  • Studio collaborative: Shaping National Science Policy, Francis Slakey and David Goldston, spring 2015
  • Studio collaborative: Introduction to Rhetoric, Matt Pavesich, spring 2015
  • Ignatius Seminar, John De Gioia, fall 2014
  • Introduction to Bioethics, Maggie Little and Arjun Dhillon, spring 2014
  • Bioethics: Medical Error, Maggie Little and Ann Pendleton-Jullian, fall 2013
  • Bioethics and the Moral Imagination, Maggie Little and Randall Bass, spring 2012