Fashion and Ethics

A liberal education has the goal of preparing students develop both practical skills such as problem-solving, ability to effectively communicate, and the ability to apply information to everyday life as well as to develop a sense of who they are as citizens of a community. This course has been designed specifically for first year students to reflect on the ethical perspectives that shape decision-making about an everyday product: apparel. The apparel industry is the context used to examine our own ethical viewpoints and the meaning of citizenship. We document how public engagement has impacted the moral issues that historically evolved within this industry and how public engagement can be used to shape and change contemporary industry practices. Specifically, students address the following: what is the concept of ethics and how does it differ from other related terms (e.g., morality, legality, self-interest, codes of conduct)? What are common ethical viewpoints and how have they developed? What ethical view(s) most closely align with their own? How did they develop their view(s)? What does it mean to behave ethically? How does a shared ethic develop within a community or organization? What is corporate culture? How does the culture of an organization promote ethical behavior? How do problems evolve within the apparel industry and what role does ethics and engagement in everyday life play in perpetuating or solving these problems?

Students examine their personal and professional goals; learn about their strengths and weaknesses; and assemble a job portfolio consisting of cover letter, resume, and professional recommendations. Students build their professional network through informational interviews.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify different ethical perspectives, their origin, and evolution, as this will serve as a course foundation for students’ understanding of ethical theory, as it relates to the fashion industry and current topics. This will be addressed through lectures, readings, and video content, and will be assessed through exams & quizzes, as well as writing assignments and discussion boards.
  2. Reflect, question, re-establish your own moral viewpoints as they relate to purchase, use, and disposal of apparel, as students, since this will help to integrate course content and personalize it to your own experience. This will be addressed through lectures and in-class discussions, and assessed through writing assignments and discussion boards.
  3. Describe and recognize moral problems linked to the design, production, retailing, consumption, and disposal of apparel. This will relate to the course, so as to focus students’ application of ethics to the specific course topic and content. This will be addressed through lectures, discussion, and in-class exercises, and will be assessed through writing assignments and discussion boards.
  4. Recognize the effectiveness of public engagement in addressing and solving contemporary problems within the apparel industry. This relates to the course, as students need to understand public engagement in terms of the course content of corporate social responsibility and governance. This will be addressed through lectures, videos, in-class discussions, and will be assessed through exams, quizzes, career fair, and writing assignments.
  5. Apply knowledge of ethical viewpoints to contemporary problems within the apparel industry and through apparel consumption, and offer solutions. This relates to the course, as students need to understand how foundational ethical perspectives connect with the modern day fashion industry. This will be addressed through lectures, videos, in-class discussions, and will be assessed through exams, quizzes, career fair, and writing assignments.