Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Student Self-Reflection in a Professional Ethics Course




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



In the Crito, Socrates begins the discussion on whether he should escape from prison with a statement of self-awareness, "For I am and always have been one of those natures who must be guided by reason." Socrates then finds common values with Crito, "Are we to say that we are never intentionally to do wrong, as has been already acknowledged by us." This process of discussing ethical issues by beginning in self knowledge and then to find common ground as modeled by Socrates can present difficulties, however. In this paper, I discuss whether practical ethics courses such as a Professional Ethics course should contain a student self-reflection component as a starting point to all ensuing discussions of right behavior in professional life. I argue for the advantages of individual self-reflection while addressing the difficulties involved in this kind of psychological process. Some advantages are that the students can move through the course readings and discussions of ethical issues more personally aware of their own priorities, values, and goals. This kind of self preparation can also deepen the class discussions and keep them authentic. Yet, how much does the professor direct the process and should the students be encouraged to consider the existential questions of accepting who they are or continue in a self-creating process? Another question that needs to be addressed is whether academic professors are qualified to direct self-reflection at all and, if so, how can it be done effectively and safely.

Conference Name

Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum 12th International Conference

Conference Location

Schenectady, NY

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