Center for Instructional
Innovation and Assessment



This year's Showcase theme, Teaching Ethics Across the Curriculum, features three instructors who integrate the study of ethics into their courses at Western Washington University.


Brian Burton, an Associate Professor in the Department of Management, teaches a course entitled Ethics in Business Decisions. Dr. Burton developed a decision-making framework for students to use to discuss cases featuring ethical dilemmas. During the course of the quarter, students are encouraged to apply this framework to identify key issues and to decide how to choose between alternative resolutions of the ethical dilemmas presented in the cases.

Janice Lapsansky, a Lecturer in the Biology Department, embeds a laboratory assignment on bioethics in her introductory biology course. This assignment, which comes at the end of the course, enables students to use the small-group lab relationships they have built over the course of the quarter to argue both sides of bioethical dilemmas. This approach makes the course more meaningful to students, as they see how biology can be applied to issues that arise in their everyday lives.

Jeff Newcomer, an Associate Professor in the Engineering Technology Department, collaborated with two colleagues, Kathy Kitto and Barbara Sylvester, to create a course in the engineering technology curriculum that combines writing with case studies featuring ethical dilemmas. Dr. Newcomer has enriched his students' educations by featuring ethics-focused case studies in several of his technical courses. In this way, ethics has been embedded throughout the engineering technology curriculum.

There are many moral communities, family, church, neighborhood, ethnic, political, national, intellectual, professional, and on and on. Each of us participates in many more than one of these communities. The challenge of every life is to reconcile those communities, some of which are at war with others. Even though one of the communities to which we belong often assumes a dominant role in one's moral life, we must learn to integrate the self into a meaningful whole, using almost exclusively the materials given or thrust upon us by various moral communities.

—Robert P. Lawry