I just finished up a course on Communication Ethics. It was interesting to learn more about various ethical constructs and what constitutes ethical behavior. The course included eight blog-type discussion board posts and four critical analysis papers. Our thoughts on ethical dilemmas and personal examples of ethical behavior were shared online with the class. I found myself opening up to the class in ways that I probably wouldn't do if it were in person. Sitting in my den, typing away as my son sleeps, allows me to be self-critical and examine my past actions and current values in ways that are more difficult in front of a group of relative strangers. It's freeing, in a way. I have come to like, appreciate, and enjoy my authentic self.
Examining one's beliefs and values and learning about the beliefs of others can by quite interesting. I've definitely grown as a person as I mark the halfway point of my COML journey. I'm also able to examine a problem and break it down into manageable sections before doing the work, which helps in grad school and also helps me figure out how to raise a two-year old.
In case you're interested in how online graduate school works, here is an unedited discussion board post I wrote earlier this semester. The topic was on incorporating two specific ideas into my own personal ethical philosophy or credo, as they point to an ethical way of encountering and engaging difference. It got a score of 5/5, so you know it's insightful and interesting:
I follow two credos in my daily life: 1. Fortune favors the bold; and 2. Do the work. They are both simple and guide me as I make decisions. Being bold and doing the work also can apply to engaging differences. Being bold involves making decisions that seem risky or courageous, which can include putting oneself out there and trying to meet new people or experiencing new cultures. Doing the work can include experiencing new ideas with an open mind.
I pride myself on having an open mind and always trying to understand the point of view of anyone I talk to or encounter. I certainly don’t always agree with them, but I want to know why other people have opinions and philosophies that differ from mine. I get frustrated when others don’t have the same desire to be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. Opinions are inherently never wrong, yet many people across the political spectrum are closed-minded to the opinions of others who disagree with them and mistake their own opinions as facts.
Since having an open mind is important to me, I also pride myself on having a diverse group of friends. I have friends of almost every political persuasion and count people of different races, genders, sexual orientations, generations (younger and older), and ethnic backgrounds as my friends. Standpoint theory, as defined by Wood (1997), would contend that I have standing, and concomitant privilege, as an upper-middle class white heterosexual male. My friendships have been defined by those with whom I went to school and know professionally, so it is true that positions constructed by societies have enabled and defined my identity as a member of various social groups (Wood, 1997).
Schwartz (2012) created a value theory that specifies six main features implicit in the writings of theorists. Schwartz’s sixth value states that “the relative importance of multiple values guides action.” This is a noteworthy suggestion because I can think of many times when it has proven true. My first credo, Fortune favors the bold, suggests that good things come to those who make bold decisions. But making bold decisions often goes against other values such as conformity and security.
In my life, I made a bold decision to move across the country, far away from my family and home state, not once but twice. The good fortune came in the form of professional career growth. It was uncomfortable, though, and I was nervous about my decision. I could have followed the value of security and stayed close to home. But my values of self-direction and stimulation were relatively more important, so moved and stayed on the East Coast for a combined 12 years. Later, as I grew older and got married, security and conformity became relatively more important than stimulation, and my wife and I moved back to Washington state to be close to our families.
“Do the work” is my other credo. I adhere to it in this class because I only have a limited time each day to finish my reading and homework. I do all my classwork when my son is napping, so I need to do the work and not waste time doing other things when he is asleep. It helps motivate me to finish my papers and reading.
Makau, J.M., & Arnett, R.C., Eds. (1997). Communication ethics in an age of diversity. University of Illinois Press.
Schwartz, S. H. (2012). An Overview of the Schwartz Theory of Basic Values. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1). http//dx.doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1116