Work, Life, and Purpose in an Uncertain World (Gen Ed 1028)

Semester: 

N/A

Ethics & Civics icon with text

Nien-hê Hsieh

Work is something hardly anyone can avoid. For some, it is a source of pride and purpose. For others, it is simply a means to living. This course not only examines the ethical issues in the way work is organized, compensated, and distributed around the world, but also helps students develop a framework to analyze and address ethical challenges they will face at work. The inquiry takes as its starting point that the world of work is quickly changing in the face of technological transformations, the need for new skills, artificial intelligence, the rising gig economy, globalization, and demographic changes.

The course explores four themes.

  1. Analyzing the World of Work: What should determine what people are paid for their work and who gets what jobs? Does everyone have a claim to meaningful work? Should raising children or caring for our loved ones be compensated? What should we do if AI eliminates most work?
  2. Engaging with Work: What is and should be the role of work in our lives? What counts as success and a life well lived?
  3. Navigating the Workplace: What are our responsibilities at work and how can we act ethically at work? How should we reconcile competing responsibilities? What should we do when our professional responsibilities conflict with our personal beliefs?
  4. Shaping the World of Work: What are the ways in which the changing world of work affects our economy, politics, and society? As individuals, how can and should we shape the changing world of work?

The course draws broadly on a range of disciplines, including economics, politics, philosophy, psychology, business ethics, and management studies.