Ethics in the Workplace

MS/TH 3YE3/5YE5/6YE6

This course is a part of the branch of study called professional ethics. It examines the ethical principles we rely upon when relating to others in the workplace. Are your actions motivated by theological views, pop culture values, perhaps social expectations such as laws and cultural norms, or a mixture of all of these? Having an awareness of ethical prejudices (what we already believe) is important for then fashioning a more robust ethical system by which to live. Professional ethics is of immense practical (concrete) significance for achieving the good life (a life lived well). Each unit emphasizes applied ethical problems encountered in the workplace and some of the major answers to them.

Expanded Course Description:

Throughout the term we will ask very challenging questions: Do you know if your actions are good or bad? What ethical standards do you use to judge right from wrong? This course is designed to problematize our moral assumptions about how to act ethically in the workplace. Every workplace environment needs ethical guidelines that govern its practices. Sometimes these guidelines are clear and healthy (good for the community), other times they are nonexistent, inadequate, and even bad (harmful). Is there room for ethical improvement in your workplace?

Our awareness of professional ethics must address issues as diverse as racism, conflicts of interest, dishonesty, rights, privacy, trust, sexism, government regulations, integrity, and many more. Have you experienced an ethical dilemma for which there seemed to be no satisfying answer? Perhaps you have been (or will be) expected to help divorced parents fighting for custody of a child, an abused spouse leaving home, the fall-out of an adulterous relationship, or a family struggling with the medical question whether to “pull the plug” on a terminally ill family member. All these situations require ethical actions and choices we may feel unprepared to answer because we do not understand the underlying ethical problems. Throughout the course, students will explore numerous real-life topics with the goal of informing their own creation of ethical guidelines for the workplace. There is no simple “one size fits all” set of guidelines for every context. Ultimately the goal is to begin to prepare students for unpredictable ethical dilemmas.

Please note that there is significant thematic/content overlap with Professional Ethics MS5YE5/6YE6, the required DPT version. These courses are designed to be highly selectable in nature. This means that there is a lot of content provided (more than a typical course) from which to pick like a buffet-style lunch, choosing topics most relevant to one’s context and doing assignments that are similarly relevant. Even so, despite the broad flexibility, students should know that both courses cover the same scholarly topics (ethics in the professional arena/workplace) and should decide accordingly.


  • By the end of this course students will possess greater knowledge of ethics relevant to the workplace.


  • Through an examination of major ethical questions, students will be encouraged to develop their own ethical way of life that embodies Christian values such as honesty, integrity, respect, and accountability.


  • By the end of this course students will be able to apply theologically-grounded ethical principles to life and ministry contexts across the professions.