Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wrap-up for final project

I'm sorry to miss our final class together today. As I stated last week, I have enjoyed our discussions this semester about a variety of issues. Best to you all, especially those graduating seniors. Please call me tomorrow if you have questions about your own final project.

I thought that the research presentations Monday were all strong ones--now the work begins to weave that research into a narrative that takes into account many of the lessons of the semester: communitarianism, utilitarianism, and beyond. The Dallas Cowboys case study is a good sample for you to follow in fleshing out your own case analysis with an ethical emphasis.

Here's an example of the kind of work still left to complete. In Jhubin's presentation on Apple (his employer), he talked about the "frame" used by the company in its opposition of the California proposition, saying it was a "civil rights issues." By placing the issue into that conversation, the company is deliberately making the argument that "everybody matters," or to put it another way, that all members of the community are important, even if they are a minority (communitarianism). So, this will need to be explicitly stated in his project, that first, the company framed the issue as civil rights and is considering all of its employees, not just the majority of employees who have access to the benefits and privileges of marriage because they are straight. That makes its action communitarian in nature, at least for that part of the discussion. Perhaps this would fit under the value of "humaneness," but I think a good case could be made for it being "justice/fairness," or "stewardship," since good employee morale based on fairness makes the company a better place, more profitable, etc.

Hypothetically, Apple (and Google) may have done other things that were more utilitarian in nature, such as pooling resources in the fight against this proposition in a way that diminishes one group in favor of another. So, the way that Jhubin chooses to tell this story won't be either purely one way or the other--it's a "both/and" situation. Be sure to use evidence to support your claims, and that means explicitly pulling things from your timeline or case narrative to illustrate why you think an action is utilitarian or communitarian.

I would also urge you to carefully read through the assignment again, to be sure you are fully completing the final project and understand how it will be evaluated by me. Many students last semester lost all kinds of points because of having too many errors and sloppy references. Some students completely shortchanged the ethics discussion by spending only one page on that part of the project. So, be mindful of these pitfalls as you work.

In terms of a due date, it would be great to stick with our syllabus, and turn them in on Monday, Dec. 8, but I realize that some of you are swamped with work. If you would like an extension, please send me an email request, and I'll give you a little more time, until Dec. 10.

Before leaving today, if you didn't do your presentation last time, please find two other people to make a small group of three. Spend class time in talking about your research to your small group, seeking feedback and starting to think about how to focus and narrow your topic. Then, be sure to begin the turn toward how you will talk about your narrative in terms of ethical choices that were made along the way.

I'm off to the doctor--again, sorry to miss class. Best.