Instructor: Robert V. McGrath, MBA, Ph.D.
Office Hours: Before and After Class, by Appointment, Email, Text, and Phone
Course Delivery: Blended
Times: Wednesdays/5:50 PM to 8 PM
I. Course Description
Students will examine the various ethical and moral issues arising in contemporary
organizational activities that affect individuals, groups, and society. Philosophical theories
of ethics will be discussed in the context of contemplating and acting upon moral challenges
and issues. Moral values will be applied through case analysis and facilitated class
discussions, at the individual and group levels. In this course, we will create a flexible and
applicable template to approaching and resolving ethical dilemmas. Students will be asked
to be reflective practitioners in fostering an ethical lens on the world of organizational
dynamics and personal action. This course treats ethics in the context of leadership
decision-making, recognizing the importance of making sound ethical judgments in a
The first question to address in this course, is what is “ethics” and what is “morality”? One
key distinction is that morality focuses more on social norms and institutional conventions
of the immediate culture and society. Ethics, on the other hand, is more universalistic with
deeper philosophical roots and more transcendent impact on thought and behavior. Ethics is
an examination of various sets of values that people hold. Ethics examines individuals, their
dilemmas, decisions and behaviors broadly over situation, society and culture.
Ethical leadership is on one hand highly personal – the development of moral beliefs is built
from family upbringing, religion, and defining moments that emerge from a person’s own
choices in life. On the other hand, ethics are largely affected by social influences arising
from societal codes and norms. To be an ethical leader is to draw from one’s own set of
moral beliefs, recognizing the social context of these beliefs, and at the same time
appreciating and embracing the reality that each person brings to the present moment a
uniquely constructed set of moral assumptions and values.
Ethics is a branch of philosophy known as moral philosophy. Any philosophy attempts to
answer basic questions about essential matters of human life and experience. Ethics is also
fundamentally practical, in other words, we consider ethics to be a matter of application and
practice. Integrating the philosophy of ethics, the concepts and topics of ethics, with the
complicated and risky decisions that have real consequences on others, and the ongoing
development of ourselves as moral agents, are central to this course.
II. Course Learning Outcomes
By the completion of the course, students will have the opportunity to:
To define ethical leadership;
To apply the major philosophical theories of ethics and morality;
To develop insight into the assumptions that underlie ethical decisions;
To generate an understanding of the ethical dimension of organizational situations
and dilemmas, as well as decisions and behaviors;
To reflect on one’s own moral values;
To demonstrate progress in narrowing the gap between your espoused theories of
ethics and your actual practice as an ethical leader;
To reflect on one’s own experiences in organizational life that have posed ethical
To integrate analytical and critical thinking with action in real time;
To create a personal model of ethical leadership and decision making.
III. Participation/In-Class Discussion
The objective of class discussion is to draw students into discussion on the course materials and their
own experiences. Linking theory and practice is a core aspect of this and your other courses.
Critical thinking and critical analysis is reflected by going beyond the surface level of analysis, but
instead, probing deeper to discover why we see what we see. Participation in discussion board
activity will be evaluated through the rubrics of PREPARATION, ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT, and
read the chapters in advance and make notes
link theory to actual experience or cases you have examined
think about real-life examples illustrating the concepts of the class
provide constructive feedback to the class material (ask questions, share
your ideas and additional perspective about a topic or issue, be interested and
open to different points of views and ideas)
demonstrate proactive positions toward individual and group activities and
Express positive attitudes and acceptance of other members of the class
and their ideas
Respect the instructor and other students through considering other’s
viewpoints but feel free to disagree or provide an alternative position. It is
possible to agree to disagree, or disagree without being disagreeable,
sarcastic, condescending, or hostile.
IV. Teaching and Learning Strategies
This course will be taught using a highly participatory format requiring significant effort
and energies spent on discussing, observing, and analyzing course material. This is not a
lecture course in which you passively absorb material and recite it on an examination, nor
does the professor serve as "expert." My role is to create the environment and the
conditions for you to explore ethical assumptions and actions faced by leaders (including
yourself). The course experience provides the potential for learning and my objective is to
facilitate, along with your learning team, your learning process.
The following are the teaching methods we will use:
For most of our class sessions, book chapters, supplemental readings, and cases will be
assigned. Giving the participative nature of this course, it is imperative that you read the
material closely before you engage in our discussions of ethics and social responsibility so
that you can engage knowledgeably with your peers.
Each week you will be asked to participate in discussions. These exchanges provide you
with an opportunity to interact with and learn from your peers. Therefore, every student is
expected to contribute to the learning of others in class.
While class attendance is deemed critical for success in this course, mere attendance does
not constitute high quality participation that will enhance your own learning as well as that
of the others in class. Effective participation that fosters your own learning and your peers’
requires preparation and a willingness to engage in a vigorous discussion of ethics and
leadership. As instructor and facilitator, I will do my best to distribute airtime evenly, but if
you have an important comment to make and have not been given a chance, feel free to get
your contribution into the discussion. Feel free to notify me of your interest in contributing
to the discussion.
Your participation will be evaluated using the following criteria:
1. Quality – Contributions that raise interesting questions that go beyond a simple
restatement of the facts taken from a reading; that are accurate, i.e. the course
concepts are described correctly; that are analytical and insightful, rather than
generic and unsubstantiated, and; that are grounded in theory and/or experience.
2. Quantity – The frequency of your comments. Being active and providing insights,
while at the same time recognizing that often “less is more:” that your contributions
are clear and concise, rather than obscure and rambling.
3. Process: How constructively your comments fit in the development of the discussion;
extend the discussion meaningfully and further our understanding of the issues being
explored; and are constructive and show respect for the others involved in the discussion
as well as the learning environment in general.
3. Learning Teams
Each student will become part of a four-person Learning Team that will have the following
1. To support and challenge you in a safe environment in all aspects of this course:
readings, discussions, projects, etc.
2. To provide the opportunity for a truly collaborative environment of learning from each
3. To help to understand the core concepts of the course and how they apply in practice.
4. To provide an environment for the case studies examined in ethical analysis.
5. To collaborate on a team project.
The instructor will provide the teams with facilitation support. This will include observing
the teams during the learning team meetings and providing feedback both to individual
members and to the team as a whole on its interpersonal processes. The facilitator is not the
team's leader. Rather, the facilitator, through process consultation, will seek to ensure that
the members of the team maintain ownership of their own agenda and increase their
capacity for reflection on the consequences of their own actions. Team members will
choose how they wish to share the team leadership to produce the most value from the
experience. The instructor will provide suggestions during each class for agenda topics and
process deliberations that will serve to advance the development of the team toward a highly
functional state by the end of the term.
V. Required Textbook
Brincat, C., and Wike, V. (2000). Morality and the Professional Life. Upper Saddle River:
Prentice Hall. ISBN: 0-13-915729.
Note: Supplemental Readings and Resources will be posted on BlackBoard.
VI. Course Methodology
Each week, you will be expected to:
1. Review course syllabus and the week's learning objectives;
2. Complete all assigned readings;
3. Participate in the Discussion Board, if applicable, and;
4. Complete and submit all assignments by the due dates.
VII: Discussion Board
As this course is a blended delivery, there is a required Discussion Board component
through Blackboard. As indicated on the syllabus, in response to the posted Discussion
Questions, you are required to post one primary and one response post.
The Primary Post is due by midnight on Saturdays, and;
The Response Post is due by Tuesdays at midnight.
Timing is important and no exceptions will be made.
Your posts should be direct and succinct: approximately four 200-300 characters per post.
Please see the course schedule for specific due dates.
See Addendum: Writing Quality Rubric
All work other than the Discussion Board and all other written assignments must follow
either APA or MLA format. Here is a reliable guide on the following format:
Individual Attendance and Participation
(Written 25%/ Oral 15%)
Personal Reflection on Ethical Leadership
Late Assignment Submission Policy: For each day an assignment is late, there will be a
10% reduction in the grade for that assignment. At the instructor’s discretion, with prior
approval, an exception may be made granted for significant extenuation circumstances.
Be sure to include your name on all your work. Important: Proof-reading is required
(not just spell-check).
Please see the College of Professional Studies website for a complete listing of all resources
available to students to support students and enhance their academic experience.
IX. Guidelines on Assignments
Times New Roman 12 Font
APA or MLA formatted
X. Team Project
Determine as a team a particular topic or area of professional ethics that is of interest to you.
Alternatively, you can focus on a particular case study of ethics and an organization, or
ethics as they relate to a particular leader. In the project, be sure to integrate how different
ethical theories and moral values would help provide various lenses to address the issue.
Ultimately, please be prepared to define what the proper course of action should be as it
relates to your topic. In the past, students have addressed issues such as Whistleblowing,
Financial Practices, Codes of Conduct, etc. You have latitude to define this area. We will
work together to define and refine the proposal and the work in general.
Employing numerous examples, the team is required to bring your paper to life through
work-world illustrations. The final deliverable is one team-generated document of 8-10
pages. Each team will present its work on the final session on class.
XI. Final Reflection Paper (Individual)
You are encouraged to incorporate the following suggestion in your paper. Do not feel
limited to this suggestion, but try to address it in some manner.
Reflective Journal Framework
1. What I have
well as team
2. What I think
and feel about the
3. What I
4. How I can
learning in the
Note: Each Final Reflective Paper is to include a section on “Asking the Right Questions.”
Asking the right questions is the key to being a moral professional – not simply seeking to
find “the right” answers; therefore:
What are the 5-10 key questions moral professionals should ask of themselves, of others,
and about their environments? (This section is part of your Final Reflective Paper.)
Reflective paper length: 6-10 pages
(subject to minor revision)
20th to Tuesday
27th to Tuesday March
Chapters 1, 2
MPL, Chapter 1:
MPL, Chapter 2:
What Morality Is
MPL, Chapter 3:
p. 80 – 81
Cases 1 and 3
See guidelines for
case analysis top of
Team Project Time
Wednesday, March 6th
to Tuesday, March 12th MPL, Chapter 5:
Case p. 114
Case 2, p. 134
Team Project Time
See guidelines at the
end of this
MPL, Chapter 6:
and Case Solving
13 to Tuesday, March
MPL, Chapter 7:
Case p. 163. The
Interim Report of
Case #1: The Boss
who will Cover For
Team Project Time
MPL, Chapter 8:
20th to Tuesday, March
MPL, Chapter 12:
Cases 2 and 3,
Case 2 page 274
Team Project Time
27th to Saturday
Team Projects Due
(8-10 pages, see
XII. Online Communication Policy
At the heart of online learning is the commitment that the instructor and students make to
full engagement to the teaching and learning process. Online communication is as
important as that in class. Studies show that at least 80% of communication is nonverbal.
With our format, there is limited in-class communication. Thus, in the written work the
words take on greater importance. Online is a place to engage actively - not just on the
subject matter, but how we leverage technology in an interactive way to present ourselves as
“real people, in a real course, in a real learning environment.”
XIII. Academic Honesty and Integrity Statement
The University views academic dishonesty as one of the most serious offenses that a student
can commit while in college and imposes appropriate punitive sanctions on violators. Here
are some examples of academic dishonesty. While this is not an all-inclusive list, we hope
this will help you to understand some of the things instructors look for. The following is
excerpted from the University’s policy on academic honesty and integrity; the complete
policy is available at www.neu.edu/cps.
Cheating – intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information
or study aids in an academic exercise. This may include use of unauthorized aids (notes,
texts) or copying from another student’s exam, paper, computer disk, etc.
Fabrication – intentional and unauthorized falsification, misrepresentation, or invention
of any data, or citation in an academic exercise. Examples may include making up data
for a research paper, altering the results of a lab experiment or survey, listing a citation
for a source not used, or stating an opinion as a scientifically proven fact.
Plagiarism – intentionally representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own in
any academic exercise without providing proper documentation by source by way of a
footnote, endnote or intertextual note.
Unauthorized collaboration – Students, each claiming sole authorship, submit separate
reports, which are substantially similar to one another. While several students may have
the same source material, the analysis, interpretation and reporting of the data must be
Participation in academically dishonest activities – Examples include stealing an exam,
using a pre-written paper through mail order or other services, selling, loaning or
otherwise distributing materials for the purpose of cheating, plagiarism, or other
academically dishonest acts; alternation, theft, forgery, or destruction of the academic
work of others.
Facilitating academic dishonesty – Examples may include inaccurately listing someone
as co-author of paper who did not contribute, sharing a take home exam, taking an exam
or writing a paper for another student.
XIV. Northeastern Online Policies and Procedures
For comprehensive information please go to www.neu.edu/cps
XV. Northeastern Online Copyright Statement
Northeastern Online is a registered trademark of Northeastern University.
All other brand and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their
This course material is copyrighted and all rights are reserved by Northeastern Online. No
part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval
system, or translated into any language or computer language, in any form or by any means,
electronic, mechanical, magnetic, optical, chemical, manual, or otherwise, without the
express prior written permission of Northeastern Online, 2019.
Writing Quality Rubric
Grammar, Mechanics, Usage
High level of
A to A-
B+, B, or B-
C+, C, or C-
While there may be minor errors, the paper Sentences are
follows normal conventions of spelling and structured and words
grammar throughout and has been
are chosen to
carefully proofread. Appropriate
conventions for style and format are used
consistently throughout the writing sample.
Sequencing of ideas
Demonstrates thoroughness and
within paragraphs and
competence in documenting sources; the
reader would have little difficulty referring
paragraphs make the
back to cited sources.
writer’s points easy to
Frequent errors in spelling, grammar (such Sentence structure
as subject/verb agreements and tense),
and/or word choice
sentence structure and/or other writing
conventions distract the reader. Writing
does not consistently follow appropriate
Needs to improve
style and/or format.
sequencing of ideas
within paragraphs and
Source documentation is incomplete. It
may be unclear which references are direct paragraphs to make the
quotes a ...
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