Recent scandals in the business community have alerted professional writing teachers to the importance of highlighting ethics in the curriculum. From former experiences in teaching courses emphasizing ethics, the authors have adapted the curriculum to include a limited discussion of ethical approaches and terms and assigned group writing projects that consider the effects of business on the broader community. As a result of the integration of this ethical component into the entire course, students learn major ethical approaches; gain a vocabulary of ethical terms they can apply in the business world; interrogate the larger questions of business and its interactions with the local, national, and international community; and engage in the kind of dialectical discussions that require critical thinking.
Since 1992, Steven Katz's "The Ethic of Expediency" on the rhetoric of technical communication during the Holocaust has become a reference point for discussions of ethics. But how does his thesis compare to current understandings of the Holocaust? As this article describes, Katz was in step with the trend two decades ago to universalize the lessons of the genocide but his thesis presents key problems for Holocaust scholars today. Against his assertion that pure technological expediency was the ethos of Nazi Germany, current scholarship emphasizes the role of ideology. Does that invalidate his thesis? Katz's analysis of rhetoric and his universalizing application to the Holocaust are two claims that may be considered separately. Yet even if one does not agree that "expediency" is inherent in Western rhetoric, Katz has raised awareness that phronesis is socially constructed so that rhetoric can be unethically employed. Thus, rather than remain an uncritically accepted heuristic for technical communicators, "The Ethic of Expediency" can be a starting point for ongoing exploration into the ethical and rhetorical dimensions of the genre.
Critical thinking pedagogy offers a supportive environment for teaching ethics in the professional communication classroom. Four important aspects of critical thinking which particularly encourage ethical thought and behavior are identifying and questioning assumptions, seeking a multiplicity of voices and alternatives on a subject, making connections, and fostering active involvement. Focusing on these behaviors allows an ongoing incorporation of ethics into many different aspects of the classroom.
This article reports on a collective effort to position ethics policies within the context of a specific discipline – Applied Language Studies (ALS). Through a discussion of challenges to ALS-specific pedagogical and research practices, this article highlights (1) the need for consistency across institutional Research Ethics Boards in the application of general principles of ethics review, and (2) the recognition of local considerations that are informed by disciplinary approaches not envisioned in current ethics policies. Ethics policies that are driven by substantive ethical intent will recognize pedagogical practices, research methodologies, and epistemological values and traditions that mark a discipline.
In an age when students gravitate to online sources for research—and when tremendous amounts of both reputable and questionable information are available online—many have come to regard the Internet itself as a culprit in students' plagiarism. Some teachers go so far as to forbid students from researching online, in the mistaken assumption that if students are working from hard-copy sources only, the problem will disappear. We believe that an approach far different from either warnings and punishment or attempts to curtail online research is warranted.
Registered Professional Engineers (PEs) in most states have a continuing professional development requirement that specifies that in addition to taking a certain number of short courses in their area of technical competence each year, PEs must also take a professional ethics refresher course at least once every two years. Because the PEs in these ethics courses are forced to attend and because the subject matter is often perceived as legalistic, repetitive, and unnecessary, these courses tend to elicit less-than-enthusiastic responses from participants. Furthermore, since the duration of these courses (1 or 2 hours) is so short, it is difficult to give a meaningful treatment of the very broad field of ethics and also apply it to real-world ethical situations in the time frame allotted.
The public is continually bombarded with cases of wrongful practices in the work environment. As a result, the public has lost confidence in the ability of corporations and institutions of higher education to train individuals to behave in an ethical manner. Ethical practices in corporate America have resulted in institutions of higher education revisiting their ethical practices, which includes creating a learning environment where students develop the necessary skills to become ethical leaders and citizens. Many colleges and universities have adopted codes of ethics that emphasize core ethical principles and standards for their employees.
This article provides details about a comprehensive assignment for teaching sales letters in a business communication course. During the past 5 years, this assignment has evolved, moving beyond one that focused almost exclusively on strategies for making the letter persuasive, and therefore effective, to an expanded form that devotes time and attention to the ethics and visual rhetoric of the letter. In addition to composing a sales letter, each student is required to write a detailed, thoughtful analysis of the ethics and visual appeal of his or her letter.
Rather than acting on less examined beliefs, I am personally comfortable acting on ethics that have been burnished by repeated polishing from my colleagues, community, and profession. Let us use our professional conferences and journals to further that conversation.