Sophomore Seminars

Ethics for Everyone: Democratizing Ethics with Discrimination, Inequality, Injustice, and Technology in Mind


This seminar-practicum will invite students to “roll up our sleeves” and deliver concrete recommendations for making ethical decision-making accessible to ordinary citizens rather than just determined by corporate giants, law makers, or even academic experts. We will explore practical approaches to the following questions: How can we make ethical decision-making accessible to ordinary citizens in a complex world of technology, biology and even space exploration? How can we incentivize citizens to care about integrating ethics into their decision-making? How do we each have ethical power in society even where economic and technological control lie with tech giants and lodged in the brains of experts? What, if anything, is different about our sense of moral responsibility in society today (and how has technology contributed to shifting views)? How can we develop an ethics baromet—soliciting the views, and facilitating the influence of, ordinary citizens on key ethical questions (e.g., gene editing) outside of normal channels like voting and individual engagement with social media?

The highly interactive IntroSem will consider a number of cutting-edge topics from Covid-19 to racial injustice. Students can expect writing very short papers and teamwork along the way in lieu of final paper or exam.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Susan Liautaud

"I am passionate about our individual power to make better decisions for ourselves and for all whose lives we touch through the lens of ethics. I am interested in how ethics drive our individual and collective journeys, and how much power we each have as individuals above and beyond the law to shape society for the better...or to tolerate and contribute to  ills such as racism, social media bullying, and global inequality.
"My professional career delves into ethical challenges from a variety of standpoints: advising corporate, non-profit and academic organizations on complex ethics issues; founding a non-profit platform for ethics debate (the Ethics Incubator (; teaching at Stanford (Ethics on the Edge (Public Policy 134), Ethics of Truth in a Post-Truth World (Public Policy 103f), etc.; serving on a number of boards (Chair of the London School of Economics and Political Science), former Chair Doctors Without Borders US Advisory Board, and others."