OU UN – The Open University and partnership

UNODC and The Open University are partnering to support integrity and ethics education in universities

Why study this course?

This certified, five-hour online training course provides an accessible and inspiring introduction to the teaching methods and ethical concepts that underpin the Education for Justice (E4J) initiative. Providing practical support for educators in universities, it aims to develop the capacity of lecturers to successfully incorporate integrity and ethics teaching into the curriculum.


NARRATOR Education for Justice is an exciting global initiative that aims to support the rule of law by promoting a culture of lawfulness at all levels of education. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime launched the Education for Justice initiative in 2019. It forms part of its Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration. This integrates Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice into the wider UN Agenda. Education for Justice seeks to facilitate and promote teaching on issues related to the UNODC’s mandate areas, including anti-corruption, human trafficking, cybercrime, criminal justice, as well as integrity and ethics.

This interactive course aims to inspire you to engage with the Education for Justice Initiative and to assist you in utilising the teaching resources on Integrity and Ethics. Drawing on these materials and other resources, you will be introduced to some of the many interactive activities and case studies that form the backbone of the Integrity and Ethics Modules.

These engaging activities are designed to enable your students to engage actively and critically with integrity and ethics issues. The activities and case studies were developed by leading academics from around the world and are informed by five core teaching principles, which you will be introduced to during the course.

The core teaching principles are based on the latest education research and can be used to help create effective learning environments. Awareness and understanding of these core principles will increase your confidence and capacity to make the most of the engaging teaching activities. These are the foundation of the Education for Justice resources. You will be able to enrich the integrity and ethics teaching in your university. We hope that you will find this course insightful and that you will be inspired to support the Education for Justice initiative by adopting the materials on integrity and ethics for use in your university.

Innovative interactive teaching methods

This course will introduce the core learning principles from educational theory research that have informed the design of the E4J Integrity and Ethics Modules. Applying these learning principles will help you adapt and structure the E4J materials to create an effective learning environment for your students.

Promoting ethical capabilities through experiential learning

The course will help you get the most out of the many experiential learning exercises that form the bedrock of the Integrity and Ethics Modules. These activities help develop critical thinking skills, ethical decision-making capabilities and motivate students to become committed to ongoing ethical improvement.

Teaching Exercises

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Gender Equity

Students are asked to find a job advertisement for a role they would be interested in applying for. They use the “Gender Decoder for Job Ads” tool to review the wording of their chosen job advertisement and then they answer the following questions:

  • Consider how this tool and the Ethics of Care would direct you to rewrite the advertisement to ensure it is more gender neutral. What words did you change?
  • Are there any words in the Decoder (used in the original research) that you would question, or you feel are missing? Explain why that is.
  • Reflect on what you learnt about your own biased use of language.

Finally, facilitate a class discussion drawing on their responses. As an alternative, you could conduct an exercise in which students transform sexist or discriminatory phrases into inclusive and gender ethics-based language.

Case studies

There are three categories of exercises for lecturers:

  • Case studies that can be used for the subject of professional ethics
  • Case studies that specifically address role morality
  • Additional exercises

To prepare for using case studies as a teaching methodology, lecturers can consult the short but informative “Leading Case Discussions” from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Discussion questions are provided for all case studies, but if lecturers identify a need to review ethical theories with students, they can begin discussion by asking how different theoretical ethical perspectives would analyse the problems, and then ask how students would analyse the discussion questions. The case studies and the exercises lend themselves to a variety of teaching techniques, including individual and group-based discussion, debates, and role plays. Debates are well-suited to students who are hesitant to express their personal views, because students are expressing a view that they do not have to defend as their own personal view. Role plays are well-suited to creating awareness of the variety of persons and interests involved in ethical issues and may also help to create empathy.

Reception on values

After a short brain-storming on important values, distribute cards to the students and ask them each to write on the card one value that is the most important value in their life. Ask them to imagine that they are at an opening reception of a new programme and must introduce themselves to the other students by referring to the value on their card. Their card is their business card. They must go to others and present themselves by explaining their guiding value. After short mutual introductions, they should walk to others, to make new contacts.

Exercise Behaviours

The first three exercises are surveys that could be completed as part of the class preparation process. The students should answer all questions as honestly and naturally as they can as there are no right or wrong answers.

Survey 1: Own versus others’ behaviour

A very reliable empirical result is that people tend to be self-righteous, believing that they are more ethical than others. Recent research has revealed that this effect is nuanced, such that people tend to be especially confident that they are not as unethical as others.

Survey 2: How much?

This survey asks students to indicate how much they would need to be paid for performing a number of different actions and reflects the existence of five different basic moral foundations. Although individuals may value some foundations more than others, almost everyone recognizes the importance of each foundation.

Survey 3: Investment adviser demonstration

This demonstration illustrates the concept of ethical awareness by asking students to imagine that they are investment advisers who are considering four mutual funds, one of which (Fortitude Investments) is the Bernard Madoff feeder fund (the fund that was the largest Ponzi scheme in history, to date). Case study: Ethical beacon Students are asked to think of the organization or society that seems most ethical to them. This would be an organization or society that is an ethical beacon that the students might want to emulate, and they are asked to focus specifically on what the organization or society does to turn its ethical principles into daily practices.

The Potter Box and media ethics case studies

The purpose of this exercise is to introduce students to the ethical decision-making model known as the “Potter Box” (named after its creator, Harvard professor Ralph Potter), and explore its application to media ethics case studies.

The Potter Box method requires us (1) to precisely define the situation or dilemma, and then to think about (2) the underlying values of each case, (3) the principles which are most important to apply, and (4) the conflicting loyalties that one might hold to the various stakeholders in the case. This four-step approach is designed to open one’s thinking and promote discussions about a systematic process for making ethical decisions.

After selecting the case study, the lecturer asks the students to create their Potter Box, working individually and writing down their thoughts. The importance of introducing students to an actual systematic tool for moral decision-making cannot be over-emphasized.

Mandela’s The Long Walk to Freedom

This exercise asks students to draw on an excerpt from The Long Walk to Freedom. It describes Nelson Mandela’s first major ethical/racial (in)justice case, when his university president threatens him with expulsion if he does not violate the wishes of the students he represents, who are involved in a boycott and school election.

Students are asked to address three questions:

  • How do we make judgments about their behaviour? Is either person morally correct? Or are they both right “in their own way”?
  • How might you have handled the problems based upon race, role, and age emphasized in this excerpt?
  • Education is supposed to help diminish intolerance, ignorance, and discrimination. And yet Mandela experienced what he called institutional racism in this case within his own university. Are educational courses like this one an antidote to racism or does higher education embalm and transmit “eternal” problems of human nature which cannot be changed in diversity and ethics courses? How important and practical is what we are doing in this class?

Another version of this exercise would be to ask two students to conduct a role play of Nelson Mandela’s ethical dilemma, and then ask the other students to discuss the case study they have just seen enacted by addressing the above three questions.

Pop culture examples of ethical leadership

Either during class or at home before the class, ask the students to research online a current example of ethical leadership among pop culture figures and celebrities. Ask each student to provide an explanation as to why this figure or celebrity demonstrates ethical leadership.

Alternatively, ask each student to prepare a two-minute video clip presenting the pop-culture ethical leader of their choice.

The point of this exercise is to encourage students to appreciate how ethical leadership impacts on and relates to their own lives, and to articulate what ethical leadership means in their own terms.

Supporting the global E4J initiative

The Education for Justice initiative has brought together hundreds of lecturers and academics from across the world to support the work of the UNODC in promoting a culture of lawfulness. While UNODC’s work traditionally revolves around law enforcement and crime prevention, the organisation recognises that a culture of lawfulness can only exist when societies and individuals are guided by principles of integrity and ethics. This course is designed to help you get involved in this global effort.

JAY ALBANESE: Coming up with these E4J modules that will be available open access globally gives instructors and students a tremendous advantage. We have experts here at today’s meeting from 30 countries around the world and there are many others who have contributed to these. So whether you’re teaching you know in Kazakhstan, South Africa, the US, or anywhere else, you’ll have access to the combined knowledge of a lot of people globally.

NIKOLAS KIRBY: The advantage of these modules is that they’re tailored specifically to people and to courses that are not about ethics primarily. They’re about the various topics for which ethics is a part a crucial part of this story.

RICHARD LUCAS: What we’re trying to be as a framework where all people can use bits of this stuff. CATHERINE ORDWAY: There is a wealth of information there so that they can pick and choose and really tailor something that’s going to resonate well for the students that they have in their class.

DONHATAI HARRIS: The exercise I think that’s our sort of the strongest point.

NIKOLAS KIRBY: You’re able to communicate with your students, not merely didactically by taking a lecture and trying to communicate in a sort of very one way, typical, traditional fashion, but actually engage them in a series of exercises and practices such that the students learn through doing, not just from hearing.

ZUCHENG ZHOU: I can imagine that many people will benefit from that.

RICHARD HARRIS: Every once in a while, one of them will come up to me and say, that class I did on ethics, it actually helped me this week.

CATHERINE ORDWAY: I feel optimistic about it. I think they’re so exciting.

DONHATAI HARRIS: I have quite high hopes for these modules.

ABIOLA OLUKEMI OGUNYEMI: I’m hoping that lecturers, the faculty will find it easier to put in ethical content in their courses, even if they don’t normally teach ethics. And I’m hoping that that will have an impact on the way the students see themselves and lead their lives beyond their practice or the professions that they take on.


How to access the course

This course was designed by the Open Justice Centre and UNODC and is hosted by The Open University.

Your questions answered

  • understand the Education for Justice (E4J) initiative and how it can be adapted for your own teaching
  • implement ways to foster an ethical learning environment
  • apply educational theories that underpin the creation of the E4J Modules
  • use the E4J exercises and case studies in your teaching to promote high quality integrity and ethics education

At the end of the course there is an optional knowledge assessment. This is a great way to check your understanding of what you have learned in this course and a chance to obtain your Open University digital badge. Full details on the assessment and the badge are given in the Conclusion section.

This course has been designed for 5 hours study, but you can complete the course at your own pace, and you can re-visit it any time.

This course offers a supportive and accessible gateway to getting the most from the integrity and ethics resources which UNODC has developed.

Increase your confidence and capacity to adapt the resources for the needs of your own students.

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The course was designed by UNODC and the Open Justice Centre and is hosted by The Open University

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