Kay L. McLennan, Ph.D., Professor of Practice

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Business Ethics

BSMT-338-10, summer 2008

(A six week—5/12/08 through 6/25/08—completely online course.)


Note:  This syllabus is subject to change.

Instructor & Course Information


                  Instructor:  Kay L. McLennan, Ph.D.

                                     Professor of Practice, Business Studies

e-Mail & Voice Mail:  kmclenna@tulane.edu & 504.862.8000 x1360

             Office Hours:  Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (by appointment, Elmwood Campus)

                   Web Site:   http://www.tulane.edu/~kmclenna


                      Course:   The online version of the Business Ethics course is a highly participative

                                      asynchronous Internet-based course.  The course site – with all of the course

                                      materials and discussion forums -- is located in the myTulane Blackboard

                                      platform (at http://mytulane.blackboard.com)



Textbooks & Other Required Reading


Please keep in mind that it is your responsibility to procure a copy of the assigned textbook before the

first day of classes.


More specifically, the required textbook (and other required reading) includes:


1.      De George, R. (2006).  Business Ethics, Six Edition.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.  (ISBN 0130991635) OR De George, R. (1999).  Business Ethics, Fifth Edition.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.  (ISBN 0130797723)


2.      Course site lectures and articles (see “Assignments & Lectures” icon for reading assignments and

“In the News” to find the articles).



Prerequisites for Taking an Internet-Based Course


Each student enrolled in an Internet-based course will need:


         Computer access (students are welcome to use any of the open computer labs on the campus);

         Minimum computer capabilities (see section below entitled “Minimum Computer Requirements”);

         An interest in utilizing the Internet as a distance education mode;

         Self-motivation – with an on-line course students need to take the initiative to review the

on-line course materials, keep up with the reading and project assignments and participate in the

on-line discussions; and

         Adequate written communication skills to communicate effectively through the mediums of essay submissions, e-mail, and “chat” discussions.  (While the instructor for Internet-based

courses is available almost “on-demand” through e-correspondence and e-office hours, being comfortable with written communication is an imperative for distance education students.)



Course Topic Outline & Assignment Due Dates


Module One:  Introduction to the Tools and Language of Ethics & Morality in Business

May 12th – May 25th


         Ethics and Business

         Conventional Morality and Ethical Relativism

         Utility and Utilitarianism

         Moral Duty, Rights, and Justice

         Moral Responsibility, Virtue, and Moral Reasoning


Textbook Reading Assignment:


DeGeorge – Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5


Work Due:


1)      Post essays (with the essay questions located in the “Assignments & Lectures” icon) on or before May 20th (on your group discussion board)


2)      Post Discussion Threads (on your group discussion board) due on three (3) different days

            between May 20th – 25th


Other Important Dates:


         Last Day to Add or Drop w/a 100% refund:  May 15th





Module Two:  Analyzing Marketing and Products


May 26th – June 7th


         Justice and Economic Systems

         American Capitalism:  Moral or Immortal?

         Corporations and Morality

         Safety and Risk in the Workplace

         Whistle Blowing

         Workers’ Rights and Duties


Textbook Reading Assignment:


De George – Chapters 6, 7, 8, 11 (or 9), 12 (or 10), and 14 & 15 (or 11)


Work Due:


1)      Post essays on or before June 3rd (on your group discussion board)


2)      Post Discussion Threads (on your group discussion board) due on three (3) different days between June 3rd – 7th



Module Three:  Specific Moral Issues in Business


June 8th – June 22nd



         The Information Age


         The New Moral Imperative


Choice of Topics including:


         Current Events in the News

         An Exploration of Personal Ethics

         Different Views of Technology and Business

         Information Technology and Business

         Business-Related Environmental Harm


Textbook Reading Assignment:


De George – Chapters 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 22


Work Due:


1)      Post essays on or before June 17th  (on your group discussion board)


2)      Post Discussion Threads (on your group discussion board) due on three (3) different days

            between June 17th – June 22nd



3)      Final Exam Due Date:  June 25th (by midnight)


Other Important Dates:


         Last Day to Drop:   June 17th




Learning Outcomes & Cognitive Development Objectives


After completing the requirements of this course, students should be able to:


         Understand the techniques of moral reasoning and argumentation that are needed to analyze moral issues in business;

         Analyze the presuppositions of business—both moral presuppositions and the presuppositions from a moral point of view;

         Evaluate the individual actions in economic and business transactions within a variety of moral frameworks;

         Apply general ethical principles to particular cases or practices in business;

         Critically evaluate the morality of the American free-enterprise system;

         Critically evaluate the comparative morality of various different types of economic systems;

         Describe morally praiseworthy and exemplary actions of either individuals in business or particular firms;

         Describe morally reprehensible actions of either individuals in business or particular firms;

         Understand the current and pressing moral issues in business from workers’ rights to legitimate computer usage on the job; and

         Discuss the ethical issues inherent in the rapid changes in business, including information technology and environmental degradation. 


In terms of the cognitive learning objectives to be attained for each topic area studied (see “Course Topic Outline” below), students will:


         Gather knowledge (or facts or theories) about each topic area from the readings, instructor lecture

         notes, and e-discussions with classmates and the instructor; and

         Demonstrate comprehension (or seeing relationships, concepts, principles, and abstractions beyond simply remembering material, typically involving translating, interpreting and estimating future

trends) through essay answers, e-discussions with classmates, and the final project; and

         Understand the application (or the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations, including the application of rules, methods, concepts, principles, laws and theories) to specific issues and challenges in marketing.   



Required Student Participation


Learning is best accomplished when students are provided with experiential opportunities.  Accordingly, class members are expected to log into the class site at least three times a week (please note that the Blackboard software keeps track of when you enter the class site) as well as post assigned essays,

contribute substantive comments during the three module discussion periods, and take the final exam

within the specified time frames.  As a general rule of thumb, students are expected to respond to

the comments on their work and at least 60 percent of the essay postings of the other students in their

group.  In addition, during each discussion period, students must contribute comments on three different days.





The final grade in the course will be made up of grades on essay submissions, group discussions,

and the final exam.  The calculation of your final grade has the following components:  essay

submissions = 40 percent of the final grade; group discussion participation = 40 percent of the final

grade; and the final exam = 20 percent of the final grade.


With a potential of earning a total of 1,000 points in the course, the following point ranges (and accompanying grades) will be used.


Point Range
























599 & below



Further, the following grading component criteria will be used.


         The essays assigned during each of three modules are worth 25 points each (and taken together, the essay assignments in the course total 400 points).  Note:  There are five essays required for module one, six essays required for module two, and five essays required for module three.  The specific grading subcomponents for each essay include: 1) demonstrating a mastery of the subject material (worth 10 points); 2) meeting the assigned deadline (worth 5 points); and 3) crafting a well-written, grammatically correct composition that adheres to the length guidelines provided (10 points).  Note: While it is understood that most of the class members are already involved in demanding careers.  Accordingly, business commitments (including travel) will not excuse late work.  If you have a demanding job or travel commitments, it will be your responsibility to work ahead in the course so that you will be able to meet the deadlines specified.


         Participation in group discussions (in your individual groups) will account for 400 points of

the 1,000 points in the course.  In other words, the discussion component is worth as much as the

essay component and the discussion component makes up such a large share of the total points in the course that it is not possible to earn a good grade (or earn more than a D- in the course) if you do not fully participate in the discussion component.  More specifically, you will be able to earn 125 points during module one, 150 points in module two, and 125 points in module three by meeting the

following discussion subcomponent requirements:


1.      Providing substantive comments that include relevant personal or real world examples to back up claims and assertions;


2.      Post comments on THREE (3) different days, including responding to 60 percent of the essay postings of your group members;


3.      Responding to the substantive comments group members make on your essays; and


4.      Posting all comments in a timely manner.  In general, you should aim to respond to group members’ comments on your essays as rapidly as possible (but 1-2 day window to respond is acceptable). Also, if you wait until the final few days of a module to comment on your group members’ work or your group members’ comments on your essays, the benefits of having meaningful discussions on the course material will be lost.  Also, untimely comments will compromise the educational experience for others in the class and will be penalized. 


                  Again, you must post comments on three different days during the discussion period.


         The final exam will be worth 200 points. Students will take a timed (randomly generated)

online final exam on the major concepts in the course.



Make-Up Work Policies


Given the asynchronous nature of this course, the expectation is that students will be able to meet all deadlines for completing reading assignments, posting essay submissions and discussing group members’ submissions.  Tardy postings will compromise the quality of group discussions and accordingly are unacceptable.  In turn, only extraordinary or emergency circumstances will merit consideration for a deadline extension and will have to be evaluated by the instructor on a case-by-case basis.  Also, please

e-mail the instructor as soon as possible to explain any anticipated or missed deadlines.



Honor Code


All academic assignments in this course are conducted under the provisions of the Tulane University

Honor Code.  In particular, while students will collaborate during group discussions of the material and their work, when it comes to assembling their initial essay responses and taking module exams, students

are expected to work independently.  The complete Honor Code is available online at:


Also, all Honor Code Board meetings will take place in New Orleans.  In turn, if a student wishes to appear before the Honor Board (to counter an allegation of a violation of the Honor Code), the student must keep in mind that they will need to do so in New Orleans.  Further, if a student waives the right to appear in person before the Honor Board (in New Orleans), written statements will be accepted.



Student Disability Accommodations


Any student with a disability in need of course or examination accommodations should request accommodations through the University’s Office of Disability Services located in the Mechanical Engineering Building.  Please do this as soon as possible.  In turn, please let me know you are eligible

for accommodation (through an e-mail correspondence) and provide a copy of your approved accommodation form from ODS to me (as well as to each professor in whose course you wish to receive accommodations).  I am committed to working with the Office of Disability Services to ensure that all approved accommodations are provided.  However, if you do not deliver the approved accommodation form, I will not know you have been approved to receive accommodations and will have no basis for providing those accommodations.



 Minimum Computer Requirements


This on-line course utilizes Tulane University's myTulane Blackboard course software. In turn, the minimum computer system recommendations for using Blackboard software include the following. [Note: The Blackboard software platform may work on a computer that does not meet these minimum recommendations but using a lesser system could result in slow or problematic student access.]


         Platform: Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, ME or XP; MacOS 9 or MacOSX

         Hardware: 64 MB or RAM and 1 G of free disk space

         Browser: Internet Explorer 5.5 or Netscape 4.78 (JavaScript and Cookies must be enabled)

         Modem: 56 K (but a DSL connection is recommended for viewing video clips)

         Tulane University e-mail and Blackboard account (along with the knowledge of how to send and receive e-mail)  [Note: All newly admitted students will be automatically assigned a Tulane

         University e-mail account (your user name will be sent to you by mail and your password will be

         your social security number, without the dashes).  If you are a currently admitted student that lacks a Tulane University e-mail account and/or Blackboard account, please contact the Computer Help

         Desk, at (504) 862-8888, to set up the account(s).]

         Basic computer knowledge (including knowledge of word processing, printing files, downloading files, uploading files, etc.



Syllabus Changes


Again, the instructor retains the right to make changes to this syllabus.




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Last modified: May 26, 2008