Ethics Education Extends Beyond the Business School
Founded at the McCombs School of Business in 2012, Ethics Unwrapped has become a leader in ethics education with its online video series. The videos, which range from animated shorts to real-life scenarios, have received more than 72,000 views on YouTube from more than 158 countries and are used in more than 88 colleges. However, because the online videos are offered at no cost, Ethics Unwrapped relies on grants and donations. Recently, the Teagle Foundation validated the program's efficacy with a $150,000 donation — the largest grant it has ever given to The University of Texas at Austin. The Provost's Office gave an additional $50,000 to support and expand the program through a Curriculum Innovation Grant to the College of Fine Arts.
With the recent donations, Ethics Unwrapped is creating new videos to extend ethics education beyond the business school. There will be 12 new videos for large core classes within the College of Liberal Arts and College of Fine Arts. Furthermore, by partnering with the School of Undergraduate Studies, the program hopes to expand on the Ethics and Leadership (EL) flag by integrating relevant videos within the undergraduate curriculum.
The EL flag will require ethics be taught within the course, however, much like a writing flag, the professors are able to integrate ethics education in a way they see suitable to the subject.
Ethics Unwrapped Project Director Cara Biasucci agrees the grant will further advance and broaden ethics education at UT.
"As UT moves toward its goal of becoming a leader in online education — through the creation of flipped classrooms and fully online courses — it will need high-quality research-based content modules," explains Biasucci. "Ethics Unwrapped is at the forefront of this movement by providing exactly what UT needs to achieve its goal. We know of no other program like this at UT."
Julia Guernsey, professor and associate chair of the art and art history department, believes the video series will be a key tool in integrating ethics into the art curriculum.
"COFA (College of Fine Arts) has been actively engaged with crafting a variety of courses at all levels —from freshman to upper division classes — that will carry the ethics flag," says Guernsey.
And although Ethics Unwrapped can be taught solely online, some professors are using them as a way to supplement their lectures. Jennifer Ebbeler, who teaches in the classics department and serves as an Ethics Unwrapped team leader, will be adding an ethics flag to her Intro to Ancient Rome course.
Ethics Unwrapped videos "will have a significant role to play as we continue to expand our development of online but also 'blended' courses," says Ebbeler. "A blended course is one that uses digital content to have students learn concepts out of class, so that they are more prepared to apply them in a sophisticated way during class time."
Chair of the Association of American Universities and UT president, Bill Powers, commended the productivity of these types of online learning programs.
"These innovations will create new education models that can transcend the time and space constraints of traditional academia," wrote Powers in his 2013 report to The University of Texas at Austin on Technology-Enhanced Education. "They'll increase productivity, generate revenue, and save students and their families money."