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Lesson Plans and Exercises

The lesson plans and exercises below have been divided by general subject matter.  However, many of these exercises can be easily adopted or converted to focus on ethical issues other than for those the lesson was originally conceived.  For that reason, we recommend that you look beyond your particular subject matter to some of the other lesson plans on this list.

* For additional help, particularly regarding the adaptation of a lesson or exercise from one ethical subject matter to another, please contact the Levan Institute staff.




USC Levan Institute Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics Series 

The Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics aim to promote ethical discourse at USC by bringing together students and faculty from across schools to discuss ethical issues of practical importance. After each Coffeehouse Conversation, we put together a lesson guide with suggested readings, media, and guiding questions. Some of the guides also include a 15 minute edited videos of the conversation that can be used when discussing the topic at hand.

  • Truth or Prejudice? When do a professor's in-class comments cross the line into improper advocacy?
  • Engaging Gen Y How do we engage Iran and North Korea for a more productive dialogue and ethical foreign policy?
  • War of Words Where do we draw the line between free speech and hate speech?
  • Xxtreme Minors When should we allow minors to put themselves in dangerous situations?
  • Googling Human Rights Do global information gatekeepers like Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google have a responsibility to protect and promote human rights?
  • Selling Body Organs: Should we create some sort of an international legal system to sell and buy human organs? Or is any such system fundamentally unethical?

Independent Television Service Community Classroom lesson plans

ITVS Community Classroom lesson plans pair educational film modules drawn from ITVS’s acclaimed documentary films with standards-based lesson plans, activities, and other interactive content.

The Good, the Bad and ‘The Ethicist’

The New York Times Learning Network created this lesson plan, which relates students to Randy Cohen's famous 'The Ethicist' NY Times column    

Ethics in Film Lesson Plans

Ethics in Film is an online journal for teaching ethics with film

Ethics in Movies and TV -  

This list of films (along with descriptions) was compiled by the College of Communications at California State University, Fullerton

PBS POV for Educators: Documentaries with a point of view - Lesson Plans 

POV documentaries are a valuable resource for teachers and students. Use these free video clips and companion lesson plans to present POV films to your class.



USC Marshall Experiential Learning Center Exercises

The USC Experiential Learning Center offers a range of business ethics exercises.  Please contact ELC Director, Gita Govahi for more information.

Outside Vendors for Ethics Simulation  Exercises listed by AACSB provides you with a web-based ethics game and associated book, which can be used together or separately.  
(As described on the website): The Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics with the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics developed the original web-based simulation, Turning Gears Inc.©, as part of their commitment to provide leading-edge business ethics curricula and learning tools for current and future business leaders.  Out of Turning Gears Inc.© comes the next generation simulation series, Ethics-LX™.  Ethics-LX™ is a compilation of web-based simulation modules that take students through a series of ethics learning experiences (hence “Ethics-LX”). With Ethics-LX™, students are confronted by various dilemmas where they make real-life decisions as they refine their own understanding of the decision guide framework. Each “module,” will take the student, between two and three hours to complete.

Other business ethics exercises and lesson plans

Giving Voices to Values – teaching modules
A free service of The Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program, the focus here is specifically on how to take effective ethical action (as opposed to making correct ethical judgements).  Although the teaching materials here focus on business situations, many of them can be utilized with other subjects with little or no modification.

My friend Morgan:  An exercise in ethics
Nancy E Landrum, Journal of Management Education; Oct 2001; vol. 25: pp. 606-616.

George Williams in Thailand: an Ethical Decision-Making Exercise
Constance R. James and J. Goosby Smith, Journal of Management Education, Oct 2007; vol. 31: pp. 696 - 712.

Human Rights and Business Learning Tool
United Nations Website

Business Ethics Module
Chris Moberg, Ohio University

The Ethical Compass Toolkit
This modular toolkit includes interactive video, role-play scenarios, and case studies specifically related to accounting ethics. Developed by Barbara Porco, an accounting professor at Fordham University, the toolkit is available for free via the KPMG faculty portal. (Registration is required.)

Designing and Introducing Ethical Dilemmas into Computer-Based Business Simulations (with 2 ready-to-use ethical dilemmas)
Paul L. Schumann, Timothy W. Scott and Philip H. Anderson; Journal of Management Education; Feb 2006; vol. 30; 195-219.

Unsavory Problems at Tasty’s: A Role-Play about Whistle-Blowing
Debra R. Comer and Gina Vega, Journal of Management Education, Feb 2006; vol. 30; 251-269. 

The Dollar Game: Questioning the Ethics of Capitalism and Bargaining
Denis Collins, Journal of Management Education, June 1999; vol. 23; 302-310.
Using Challenging Course Activities to Teach Organizational Ethics
Sonia M. Goltz and Amy B. Hietapelto, Journal of Management Education; Feb. 2006; vol. 30; 220-250.

The Interiors Plant Shutdown: Using Dialectic Inquiry in a Complex Ethical Decision
Janet Lenaghan and Charles Smith, Journal of Management Education, April 2004; vol. 28; 207-223.

Ready-to-use simulations: DIALOGUES AND DECISIONS
Mary Trefry, Jill Woodilla and Andra Gumbus, Simulation Gaming, Sept. 2006; vol. 37; 357-379.

Disaster Dilemma at 29,000 Feet: An Exercise in Ethical Decision Making Based on the 1996 Mt. Everest Climbing
D. Christopher Kayes, Journal of Management Education, June 2002; vol. 26; 307-321.

Discrimination in the forest industry:  A teaching module
Dafna Eylon; Nancy Langton, Journal of Management Education; Apr 1998; vol. 22; 173-193

A globalization simulation to teach corporate social responsibility Nathan D. Bos, N. Sadat Shami and Sara Naab, Simulation Gaming,  March 2006; vol. 37; 56-72.

Incorporating ethics into business students' research projects: A process approach
Michael Jay Polonsky, Journal of Business Ethics ( Dordrecht ), Aug. 1998; vol. 11, 1227

Workplace Ethics Activity: Making Informed Ethical Decisions  

Business Ethics Debate Issues

Business Education Resources for Students 


Examining the societal impacts of nanotechnology through simulation
Leslie Jarmon, Elizabeth Keating and Paul Toprac, Simulation Gaming  2008; 39; 168

Mock trials and role-playing in computer ethics courses
Roxanne L. Canosa  and Joan M. Lucas, Proceedings of the 39th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education (2008)


An Introduction to the Twelve Part Short Course in Environmental Ethics
From the Markulla Center for Applied ethics

Lesson plans with a green perspective
From the Earth Ethics Institute at Miami Dade College



From the Carnegie Council



A Library of Multimedia Interactive Military Ethics Simulators
A series of character-driven military ethics dillemas created by the United States Naval Academy