Week 3: Ethics in the Social Sciences

I found this week’s reading interesting. The first concept that I liked out of the reading was that ethics are based on common sense. That with all of the complex and convoluted rules that go along with professional ethics, I think it’s important that we maintain enough agency as teachers as researchers as administrators to ask the question “is this right or wrong”. We should learn the rules and work to stay inside of their boundaries, but we can’t rely on a dead sheet of paper to tell us what’s right or wrong. The most important rules in our country, the U.S. Constitution, are interpreted and re-interpreted over and over. The rules only have value as long as we are critically and objectively thinking about them.

The second idea I really liked is that the ethics of the social sciences dictate that we work on issues that improve society. I have often felt this but didn’t know how to articulate it or if I should. I’ve seen a lot of research done on subjects because they were easy to research or a paper could be published quickly. While these criteria help people’s careers they don’t necessarily help the societies that they live in. Karl Marx one of the great heroes of the social sciences wrote so that he could help a group of people he thought were being exploited. In our publish or perish culture I feel like many of us, myself included, have lost track of what we’re actually aiming to do.

Thanks for giving me room to think about this

Week 2: The role of the research institution

I really enjoyed reading about the history of academia in the U.S. and specifically, the role played by the research institution. Thinking about what the U.S. university should do in America today became a lot more complex idea after learning this history. Should universities primarily be “teaching” institutions that try to transfer knowledge to students or should they be “research” institutions and work to create new knowledge? I’m not sure as a society we have to choose one or the other. It is a false dichotomy.  We have a huge and diverse population with the biggest economy in the world. There is room for both institutions and a need for both institutions. As a society, we have more than enough money and resources to support a whole host of different models.

Engineering students need to learn about ethics and the society they live in as much as social science students need an understanding of the science and technology that is changing their worlds.


Week 1: Introductions

Hello class! My name is Ben Louis and I am a graduate student in the PGG program. I began teaching as a GTA and Adjunct faculty and have run into some type of ethical question almost semester. I’m taking this course and getting the future professoriate certificate because my teaching experiences have made me aware of how much more complex and at time challenging teaching can be.

I really love the classroom and hope that I can learn and explore in this course new ways of thinking about what it is we do.