Academic Programs 

Global Ethics   (ET-630) 
  Fall 2005

Learning to live together is the challenge of our age.  This course explores the resources in and across traditions that can help us confront this challenge.  In addition to exploring the work in this area of Hans Küng and the World Council of Churches, this course looks at how these attempts to arrive at a Global Ethic might be applied to predicaments facing humanity in the 21st century.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (10 weeks) beginning September 14  

Heidi Hadsell
Professor of Social Ethics and President of Hartford Seminary  

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9502


Course Syllabus


This course will focus on the current international debate on the dynamics and effects of globalization on nations, peoples, communities, cultures, religions and values. It will also focus on recent research on, and ethical analyses of, several broad ethical issues related to the dynamics of globalization. This course is intended to:

a)   Enable students to perceive and to develop the connections between religious beliefs and current global ethical issues;

b)   Introduce to students several of the most pressing global issues in the world today so that they learn not only about these issues, but also so that they learn the skills necessary to carry out their own ethical analyses of them;

c)   Provide students with a chance to think with others about the relationship of their own religious communities to these issues, and specifically to think about how they might contribute to their communities greater awareness and involvement in the public debate relating to these issues.

 Course Requirements

Students are expected to be in class, having read all the assigned material, and ready for informed and thoughtful discussion. The written work is spread throughout the semester. There are several small papers which will give students (and the professor) a chance to test whether they have acquired the knowledge and skills outlined in a, b, and c above. There will be no final paper. If for any reason a student does poorly on a paper, he or she will have ample opportunity for revision of the paper and thus of the grade.

If you want to get an early start on reading, which is a good idea, please start with Sally McFague and Joseph Stiglizt. You may also begin some of your research into your own religious tradition described below. Do not buy all of the books on the book list until after the first day of the course.

I can be reached at extension 9502. I am always happy to talk to or to see students! My assistant Adriane Cropley (Bennett) who will answer the phone, will be pleased to make a phone or personal appointment with me.

September 14

Why Ethics?

What is the relationship between faith and values?
How does one arrive at values from faith?
What are some examples of religious communities and groups
who are engaged in global issues because of the values rooted in their faith?
What do we do when we don’t agree inside or between communities?


  • Hadsell, “For the Sake of the Neighbor, for the Sake of the World”
  • Sallie McFague, Life Abundant, part 11
  • Recommended: Enrique Dussel, Ethics and Community

Assignment: Research statements, actions, debates, theological rationales, of your own religious community, related to globalization as a whole or to one issue relevant to globalization. If you do not have a religious community, choose one to research.

Write a short (5 page) paper based on the following questions:

What is the argument that is being made? How is the moral argument connected to faith claims and tradition? Who is making the argument and to whom is it directed? How was the issue chosen, and is it connected to other moral issues?

This paper will be due October 12


September 21

We have looked at how some religious communities implicitly or explicitly connect faith and moral thought, especially moral thought related to global issues. Today we will look at several suggestions for ways in which different religious and moral communities might and often do think together, across religious and cultural differences, which continue to divide communities and faiths.

  • Michael Walzer, Thick and Thin
  • Peter Singer, One World

Articles will be handed out in class which focus on ethical thought in Judaism and Islam, relevant to global ethics.

September 28, October 4

As an entre into the study of some of the issues of globalization that we will be looking at in some detail, I have asked Bob and Alice Evans, Directors of Plowshares Institute, in Simsbury, Ct, to lead the course on these dates. Bob and Alice will share with the class the work of Plowshares which pertains directly to global ethics. They will also lead the class in several case studies, after introducing the case study method as one way into ethical analysis and decision making.

During these two weeks students should read:

  • Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and its Discontents
  • Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order
  • Robert L. Stivers, Christine E. Gudorf, Alice Frazer Evans, and Robert A. Evans, Christian Ethics: A Case Method Approach (2nd Edition)

Assignment: During this period, students will be asked to write a 5 page paper exploring the ways in which you put together your faith and your values, and how that relates to your instincts or initial moral assessment of one of the issues related to globalization.


October 12, 19

The focus of these two weeks will be on the trade and aid issues that are at the heart of much of the globalization debate. We will examine the role of the IMF and the World Bank in globalization processes, and the lively debate about their roles. The lecture and class discussion will be centered on the two books Globalization and its Discontents, and The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order. There will also be material handed out in class on anti-globalization movements, and their analyses and arguments against globalization.


October 26

One of the most pressing issues on the global agenda today is that of hunger. Some claim that economic globalization will end hunger in the world, others claim that these dynamics are exacerbating the problems of hunger. We will look at these issues from a variety of angles, including a look at some of the organization’s that are working to end hunger in the world. We will begin the analysis of hunger issues watching the film

“The Global Banquet, Politics of Food.”

  • Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty


November 2

Environmental issues are central to global ethical concerns. We will look at several pressing environmental issues and we will also look at global efforts to address them. We will also examine the connections between life styles in places like the United States and growing environmental destruction.

  • The Earth Charter will be one of the topics of discussion, and will be handed out in class.

  • Life Abundant by Sallie McFague will also be discussed, and everyone should have read it by November 2.

Assignment: Students will be asked to submit a 5 page ethical analysis of one of the ethical issues which we have looked at together.

November 9, November 16

The final two weeks of the course will focus on a few of the many efforts to bring ethical concerns into the global arena, thus providing a space for moral sensibilities to help shape some of the global processes we are witnessing today. We will look at some of the most salient movements, documents and attempts at global institution building. 

If time permits we will visit the NGO Aid to Artisans here in Hartford, and talk to staff members there about their efforts to encourage community self-sufficiency through small grants to artisans around the world.

Students will be asked to write a final 5 page paper which explores ways in which you your selves can help engage and challenge your religious institutions, or communities to get involved in thinking about and perhaps acting on some of the ethical issues we have studied over the course of the semester.  Students will share these ideas with each other during the final session of class.        


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500