Ethics and Behavior
Course Leader: John Traphagan, Ph.D.
February 4, 2012
This course introduces ethical values and beliefs that have guided behavior and thought in contemporary East and South Asian societies by comparing Western values to values drawn from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Islam. Class participants will use case studies and role-play activities to explore Asian ideas about right and wrong and, also, to develop a deeper understanding of how Americans typically build frameworks for moral decision-making.
The course will focus on understanding core concepts that shape moral thinking in Asia. Among other topics, attendees will explore: (1) the Buddhist idea of interconnectedness among all things in the world; (2) the Confucian idea of hierarchy and formality as a basis for moral reason; and (3) the Pillars of Islam. Course leader Dr. John Traphagan will emphasize the practical use of these ideas. Students will review key points at the start of the seminar and then work through case studies to see these ideas put into practice. Later in the day, leader and attendees will develop role-play scenarios in which students take positions based upon what they have learned about ethics from these three different perspectives.
The goal of this seminar is for professionals to step into the shoes of their international counterparts who define right and wrong quite differently than most Americans. They also will develop a context in which they can think about their own assumptions about how moral decisions are made.
The course would benefit any professional interested in international business, as well as those who travel regularly to Asia. In addition, teachers specializing in world history may benefit from the lessons taught in this course.
Dr. Traphagan, associate professor of Religious Studies at UT Austin, has served as a cultural consultant for corporations such as AIG and PPG. In addition, he has organized and taught segments in a K-12 teacher workshop for those interested in developing a deeper knowledge of Japanese society. He works extensively with a variety of professional and community organizations.