Professional Ethics & Values Education


Around the 16th century, the workforce (in the Western world) began to split into jobs that are learned and jobs that take little to no training. Priests, lawyers, doctors and military personal were the first positions considered professions. Around the end of the 19th century, the training for “learned” professions began to include ethical ideals such as doctors' oaths and lawyers' social obligations. Nowadays, most workers are required to act with professional integrity, regardless of their level of training.


Professional ethics and values education standardizes what is considered ethical for various professions. For example, a student of a police academy would learn public safety values, while a business student might learn about honesty in marketing. Basic ethical education begins with common sense, then what is legal and then moves on to describe the various professional ethical philosophies that are appropriate to the specific profession of the student.


Ethics and values education often features relevant ethical issues in the news and hypothetical situations where ethics or values must be applied. The student is asked to use ethics and values to think through the situation. For actual in-the-news situations, students might be asked to describe what was done right, what was done wrong or what they would have done differently. Similarly, for hypothetical situations, students are often asked to apply what they have learned and state how they would handle the issue.


Ethics and values education helps professionals by giving them guidelines to solve problems in socially acceptable ways. Business and professional problem solving is often a set of decisions, all of which may be equally lucrative. Values education helps professionals discern which course of action is more ethical.


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