Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Five Steps to Get Students Thinking About Ethics

Karen Cotter, Laura Bond, & Lauren Fullmer
The Greater Good Science Center
Originally posted 22 FEB 23

Here is an excerpt and the 5 steps:

Five steps for ethical decision-making

Teaching ethical thinking aligns with the mission you may have as an educator to promote global citizenship. “Being a global citizen means understanding that global ideas and solutions must still fit the complexities of local contexts and cultures, and meet each community’s specific needs and capacities,” explains AFS-USA. While investigating real-world problems from many perspectives, students gain an appreciation for many sides of an issue and avoid the pitfall of simply reinforcing their preexisting attitudes.

Ethical thinking also enriches social-emotional learning. According to researchers Michael D. Burroughs and Nikolaus J. Barkauskas, “By focusing on social, emotional, and ethical literacy in schools educators can contribute to the development of persons with greater self-awareness, emotional understanding and, in turn, the capability to act ethically and successfully interact with others in a democratic society.” The five steps below serve as a seamless way to integrate ethical decision making into a science or STEM class.

These steps come from our Prosocial Design Process for Ethical Decision-Making, which itself is a synthesis of three frameworks: prosocial education (which focuses on promoting emotional, social, moral, and civic capacities that express character in students), the Engineering Design Process (an open-ended problem-solving practice that encourages growth from failure), and the IDEA Ethical Decision-Making Framework. This process offers a way for students to come up with creative solutions to a problem and bring ethical consideration to global issues.

1. Ask questions to identify the issue.
2. Consider the perspectives of people impacted to brainstorm solutions. 
3. Analyze research to design and test solutions. 
4. Evaluate and iterate for an ethically justifiable solution.
5. Communicate findings to all relevant stakeholders. 


This ethical framework guides students to think beyond themselves to identify solutions that impact their community. The added SEL (social-emotional learning) benefits of self-reflection, social awareness, relationship skills, and appreciation of the world around them awaken students’ consciousness of core ethical values, equipping them to make decisions for the greater good. Using prosocial science topics like climate change empowers students to engage in relevant, real-world content to create a more equitable, sustainable, and just world where they experience how their humanity can impact the greater good.