Reflection Papers

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 papers should be submitted within one week of the event, and should address these three questions:

  1. What ethical issue(s) did the event prompt you to think about?
  2. Did the event offer any distinctive approach or solution to the ethical issue you describe in your answer to question 1?
  3. What is your current thinking about the issue, and how was it affected by attending the event and the approach / solution you describe in your answer to question 2?

Final Presentations

During the last two classes 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.

The presentation should begin with a clear statement of your question or topic and its ethical significance, and then explain how your thinking on the topic has progressed over the semester.

We are looking for you not to just state your opinion on a question, but to think about it in some depth and show us how your line of thought has changed over the course of your investigation. If you've changed your mind on the question, great; but if you haven't changed your mind, that's fine too. If you don't have a settled opinion and are still unsure what to think, even better! We just want to hear how you've engaged with alternative points of view on the question and what you've learned from doing so.

Here are some suggestions for how to find a topic:

  • Take one of the issues covered in a class discussion (e.g. criminal punishment, meat farming, gender discrimination in the media) and explain the progression of your own thinking on the topic from before the relevant class meeting to now.
  • Take an issue raised by one of the events you've attended this semester for your reflection papers, investigate it further, and tell us what you find.
  • Disappointed we didn't cover an issue that's important to you in this class (e.g. climate change, abortion, gay rights, capitalism)? Take this opportunity to investigate it yourself, and present on what you learn.
  • If you find that your ethical perspective has recently changed not just on a single issue, but in a more general way, you can present on that too - though be sure to give specific examples illustrating the more general change in your thought.

If you are unsure whether a topic is appropriate for your final presentation, or have any other questions, contact one of the instructors.

Student Examples

The examples below appear courtesy of MIT students and are used with their permission.

Reflection Papers

"American Denial" (PDF)

"Housing Dynamics and Displacement in Cambridge" (PDF)

"MIT Fossil Fuel Divestment Debate" (PDF)

"Slut: The Play" (PDF)

Final Presentation

"Racism" (PDF)