Professional Course

Ethics in Action

edX, Online
10 weeks
49 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
10 weeks
49 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
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Course description

Ethics in Action

The challenges of sustainable development are more than technical or political--they are also moral, calling on us to examine who we are as human beings, and who we want to be going forward.

This examination of what makes a "good person"--called virtue ethics--has long been the purview of philosophers and theologians. So what do the world's great religious and secular philosophies have to say about ethical conduct? Which virtues are common across creeds and cultures? And what role do ethics, spirituality, and religious communities have to play in sustainable development?

In 2016, distinguished leaders from the world's major religious traditions, philosophers, scholars, and scientists were invited by Pope Francis to the Vatican for a series of meetings. Known as the Ethics in Action initiative, these meetings sought to promote dialogue and find consensus about the values needed to advance transformative action for our common home and the human family.

This course features Ethics in Action meeting participants, as well as other leading voices, and discusses the perspectives of some of the world's great traditions and their role in addressing our world's most pressing challenges, including poverty, corruption, and climate change. It presents multi-faith cooperation as essential for achieving sustainable development, and calls for the development of a new shared virtue ethics to bring us all into a sustainable and peaceful future.

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  • Self-paced Online
  • Online
  • English

Who should attend?



Training content

Module 1: Introduction to Ethics in Action

  • Chapter 1: Sustainable Development and the Need for Ethics in Action
  • Chapter 2: The History of Sustainable Development and the SDGs
  • Chapter 3: The Moral and Practical Limits of Global Capitalism
  • Chapter 4: Moral Teachings and Sustainable Development: An Overview from the World’s Religions

Module 2: Religion and Virtue Ethics - Part I

  • Chapter 1: Lessons from Classical Greece
  • Chapter 2: Lessons from Classical China
  • Chapter 3: A Hindu Perspective
  • Chapter 4: A Buddhist Perspective

Module 3: Religion and Virtue Ethics - Part II

  • Chapter 1: A Jewish Perspective
  • Chapter 2: A Catholic Perspective
  • Chapter 3: A Protestant Evangelical Perspective
  • Chapter 4: An Islamic Perspective
  • Chapter 5: An Indigenous Perspective

Module 4: The Virtuous Society

  • Chapter 1: Virtue Ethics as a Multi-Religious Consensus
  • Chapter 2: Inquiry and Moral Reasoning
  • Chapter 3: Spirituality and the Common Good
  • Chapter 4: Virtue Ethics and Science
  • Chapter 5. Gender Equality: A Confucian Perspective

Module 5: Poverty and Inequality

  • Chapter 1: The Challenge of Global Poverty
  • Chapter 2: The Rights to Health, Education, and Decent Work
  • Chapter 3: Christian Social Teachings on Poverty
  • Chapter 4: Ethical Conduct Towards the Vulnerable
  • Chapter 5: Ethical Actions to End Poverty

Module 6: Peace

  • Chapter 1: The State of Conflict around the World
  • Chapter 2: Barriers to Lasting Peace among and within Nations
  • Chapter 3: Tenets of Peace of the World’s Religions
  • Chapter 4: Religion and Peacebuilding
  • Chapter 5: Actions for a Lasting Peace: Lessons from Syria

Module 7: Refugees, Trafficking, and Modern Slavery

  • Chapter 1: Drivers of Migration, Human Trafficking, and Modern
  • Chapter 2: The Ethics of Migration and Refugees
  • Chapter 3: The Ethics of Modern Slavery and Trafficking
  • Chapter 4: Political and Social Responses to Forced Migration

Module 8: Environmental Justice

  • Chapter 1: Environmental Perils Facing the Planet
  • Chapter 2: A Hindu Approach to Environmental Care
  • Chapter 3: Laudato Si’ and Climate Justice
  • Chapter 4: The Rights of Indigenous Populations
  • Chapter 5: Defending our Common Home: Global and Local Actions

Module 9: Politics and Power

  • Chapter 1: Politics, Power, and the Common Good
  • Chapter 2: The Moral Underpinnings of Statecraft
  • Chapter 3: Ethics and the International Political Order
  • Chapter 4: Corruption and Politics Today

Module 10: Business, Work, and the Common Good

  • Chapter 1: The Moral Basis for Business Activity
  • Chapter 2: Corruption and Global Business
  • Chapter 3: Technology and the Dignity of Work
  • Chapter 4: Business Leadership for Community Well-being

Course Conclusion: Towards a New Virtue Ethics for Sustainable Development

Examining Ethics in Action: Case Studies

  • Pope Francis and Multi-Faith Action
  • Religions for Peace
  • Community-based Healthcare in Africa
  • Health and Climate Change
  • Reflections from the Business Community
  • Move Humanity

Course delivery details

This course is offered through SDG Academy, a partner institute of EdX.

2-4 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$49
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

  • The meaning of virtue ethics and its expression in several major religious and philosophical traditions
  • The importance of establishing multi-faith consensus to advance sustainable development
  • The importance of involving faith communities in peace and development work
  • How ethics motivates the actions of religious and secular leaders, politicians, scientists, civil society, and business
  • What shared virtue ethics are needed to create a more peaceful and prosperous world for everyone

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