Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Description

What is your responsibility to the global poor, the homeless, the disenfranchised? Is the death penalty morally permissible, and if so, under what conditions? Is it permissible for the state to contract with for - profit prisons? What sacrifices, if any, should we make to protect the environment? What is our right to use "natural resources," such as water? Is nuclear energy worth the risk? What moral and political issues are relevant when we choose what to eat?

This course is a seminar made possible through a collaboration between Radius and the Philosophy section of MIT. The seminar is a place to build relationships, share resources, explore tools for solving ethical problems, and gain skills for clarifying your personal and vocational principles. Topics can vary depending on expressed interests of the group and current critical issues such as political change and movements, environmental and / or human catastrophe, global conflict, and local topics.


Class Participation

Each seminar meeting will include interactive teaching on a particular topic, designed to equip students for reflection and action. Students are expected to attend every seminar. If you cannot make a seminar, please contact one of the instructors beforehand.


During the semester, students will be expected to attend three Radius events or public forums or other pertinent public lectures, films, plays, 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.

Outside of Class

Students will be 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 you attend. The reflections are due at intervals during the semester.


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

There is no final exam.