24.191 | Spring 2015 | Undergraduate

Ethics in Your Life: Being, Thinking, Doing (or Not?)

Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 24.191 Ethics in Your Life: Being, Thinking, Doing (or Not?) as it was taught by Prof. Sally Haslanger, Patricia-Maria Weinmann, and Brendan de Kenessey in Spring 2015.

This course exposes students to a wide range of ethical issues. Guided discussions equip students for ongoing reflection and action. Lectures and discussions with guest faculty members, as well as attendance at on-and off-campus events, expose students to ethical problems and resources for addressing them.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Develop relationships and share resources with students and instructors engaged in examining their ethical perspectives
  • Explore tools for solving ethical problems
  • Gain skills for clarifying personal and vocational principles

Curriculum Information



Requirements Satisfied

24.191 can be applied toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Philosophy or Linguistics and Philosophy, but is not required.


Every spring semester

Instructor Insights

"Almost all MIT students want to make a difference in the world, but many are not quite sure how to go about it. They´re overwhelmed by the task and they´re not sure how to start. We designed the course to help students identify small changes they can make in their everyday lives that will help them actualize the difference they hope to see."
—Patricia-Maria Weinmann

In the following pages, Patricia-Maria Weinmann and Brendan de Kenessey describe various aspects of how they taught 24.191 Ethics in Your Life: Being, Thinking, Doing (or Not?).


Grading is pass/fail. The following components are considered when assessing students´ learning:

Class Participation

Each seminar meeting includes interactive teaching on a particular topic, designed to equip students for reflection and action. Students are expected to attend every seminar.


During the semester, students are expected to attend three Radius events, public forums, or other pertinent lectures, films, plays, or panel discussions offered at MIT and beyond. Those who are unable to attend an event recommended by an instructor may substitute an alternative event approved by one of the instructors.

Read More

Outside of Class

Students are expected to be in dialogue with one another online between meetings through the class website. This is an excellent way to continue and deepen discussion begun during class.

Reading and Writing

There is very little required reading, but links to recommended readings and other resources can be found in the Readings section. Students are encouraged to read the suggested material and explore additional resources for information.

Students are required to submit three short (roughly 250–300 word) reflection papers over the course of the term in response to the outside events they attend. The reflections are due at intervals during the semester.


During the last class of the term, each student gives a 5–7 minute presentation on their own ethical perspective, as developed over the course of the term.

There is no final exam.

Student Information


About 30 students

Breakdown by Year

Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Breakdown by Major

Variety of majors

Typical Student Background

Students come from a variety of majors and are usually at different stages of their academic careers. They often say they value being able to discuss ethical issues with people they wouldn´t normally otherwise meet.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 6 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:


  • Met once a week for 1.5 hours per session; 11 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • Class sessions were discussion-based. 

Out of Class

  • Online responses to questions provided by the instructors
  • Attendance at three Radius events, public forums, lectures, films, plays, or panel discussions
  • Readings in preparation for class sessions
  • Three reflection papers
  • One presentation

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Presentation Assignments with Examples
Written Assignments with Examples
Instructor Insights