You are enjoying a nice stroll through a little town when, all of a sudden, you notice an out of control trolley hurdling down the tracks toward five cute and innocent children tied down and unable to move. In your frenzy to save the children, you also see an extremely overweight man stuffing his face with yet another donut near the tracks. In the split second that you have to think, you realize that you could push the man in front of the trolley, killing the man but stopping the trolley to save the children. Or you could just stand by and watch as the five children are killed by the speeding locomotive. What do you do?
Well, with an ethics concentration from the University of Dallas, you may begin to understand the moral implications of each choice, equipping you with the necessary knowledge to know whether you should, in fact, push the fat man the next time you find yourself in this situation. But it’s not all trolley problems and hypothetical theory.
This new concentration, offered by the UD Philosophy Department, joins the Latin American studies and Jewish studies concentrations in the latest effort to expand the academic programs available to UD students interested in a specific field of study.
Directed by associate professor of philosophy Dr. Lance Simmons, the ethics concentration aims to give students a background in moral theory while also considering ethical applications in more practical domains, such as bioethics, marriage and politics.
The addition of this concentration makes plenty of sense when one considers the need for practical understandings of ethical problems in the real world. And as students have already been showing interest in adding the concentration to their resume, it seems to be a worthwhile investment.
But most importantly, at a university that holds the belief that philosophy and the liberal arts play a key role in preparing students to make positive contributions in the real world, it seems surprising that an ethics concentration has not been added sooner. Surely it has the potential to embody the core elements of UD itself.
UD also has plans to add a concentration in Latin American studies. In what will most likely be a joint operation between the history and Spanish departments, with contributions from the human sciences department, it will seek to provide students with a focused understanding of the history and culture of Latin American peoples.
And for students who either share in the Latin American heritage or are otherwise interested in it, this concentration can provide a valuable look into an increasingly rich, diverse and relevant field of study, from Latin American literature and art to historical figures and contemporary issues.
In addition to the ethics and Latin American studies concentrations, there is the new Jewish studies concentration, directed by the theology and history departments.
The expansion of the UD curriculum signals an exciting growth in academic choice and specification for students, allowing one to focus on subjects of personal interest or supplementary knowledge in addition to a primary major.
More programs also mean more opportunity for instructors to share their knowledge of various areas of specialization.
By encouraging a more varied academic catalogue, it seems that the distinct individual interests and backgrounds of each member of the UD community will flourish, making for a more diverse campus as a whole.