Ethics: HUM 400

About the Course

HUM 400:  Ethics
Ethics examines ethical dilemmas from a multitude of theoretical, global perspective. Emphasis is on moral reasoning and decision making. This course satisfies the ethics graduation requirement for all CSUMA students.

Student Population: 
This course is taken by juniors and seniors majoring in marine transportation, international business, or global studies and maritime affairs, as a university-wide graduation requirement. In preparation for this course, students have completed lower-division composition and critical thinking requirements.

Learning or student outcomes:  

1. Identify and define key philosophical terms studied in the course.
2. Distinguish among the moral theories studied in the course.
3. Critically analyze and evaluate moral arguments, both orally and in writing.

4. Apply moral theories to specific contemporary moral issues.

Key challenges faced and how resolved: 
Students had to adjust to reading texts for class on a screen, and so did I. I urged students to use a computer, not a phone to read for class. I also created short reading quizzes for students to take before meeting live, to ensure that important information was retained. On my end, I admit that sometimes I would print out pages that I knew I would need to emphasize in discussion, but most of the time I was able to teach straight from the screen. After the first few weeks, everyone seemed to fall into a functional groove with the online texts.

About the Resource/Textbook 

OER/Low-Cost Titles: 

Brief Description: I converted all of my required reading to OER e-book resources

Student access: 
Links to all texts for HUM 400 are located on the my personal website:  Some text links require CSUMA library login to access e-books.  I converted all of my required reading to OER or library e-book resources.

Texts resourced:  
Open Access Textbook: Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics 

created by Frank Aragbonfoh Abumere, Douglas Giles, Ya-Yun (Sherry) Kao, Michael Klenk, Joseph Kranak, Kathryn MacKay, George Matthews, Jeffrey Morgan, and Paul Rezkalla; it is edited by George Matthews and Christina Hendricks, and produced with support from the Rebus Community. The original is freely available under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license at

Ethical Issues in Six Religious Traditions, by Peggy Morgan and Clive Lawton, Edinburgh University Press, 2007 

Striking a Balance: A Primer in Traditional Asian Values, by Michael C. Brannigan, Lexington Books, 2010

Politics: Made Simple, by J.R. Thackrah, Heinemann, 1987

Ethics & Capitalism, by John Douglas Bishop, University of Toronto, 2000

Global Ethics: An Introduction, by Heather Widdows, Acumen, 2011

Cost Savings: Over two semesters, I taught a total of 160 ethics students.  By using OER and e-books from the library, I saved each student from having to purchase $178.69 in textbooks, for a grand total of $28,590.40 in savings for the academic year.  

OER/Low-Cost Adoption

OER/Low-Cost Adoption Process

Provide an explanation or what motivated you to use this textbook or OER/Low-Cost option. In the past, the textbooks I’d assigned in this course tended to be too narrowly focused, and were often written for philosophy majors or graduate students.  They were also very expensive!  Using Open Educational Resources allowed me to assign chapters or sections from several different texts; I didn’t have to worry about how much of each text I used, because everything was free to the student.

Describe effects on teaching and learning that resulted from adopting OER.

Moving to a totally online platform during the pandemic changed everything about my teaching, so it’s difficult to tell exactly what influence OER had.  However, not having to order books ensured that students had all of the materials needed for the course on the first day of class.  This was great, as I’ve always struggled with students who didn’t buy the assigned texts on time.  Also, since students are always plugged into their devices, their reading assignments are never too far away.  In a pinch, students could access the reading materials on their phones if they needed to.   

Did student retention improve?  Yes, but not sure if this is because of OER or the reading quizzes.

How did you find and select the open textbook for this course? Kitty Luce, ALS Coordinator and Instructional Librarian on our campus, carried the banner for OER resources on our small campus, and I followed along.  She provided CSUMA faculty with links that were extremely helpful.  I also browsed OER sites like Merlot for materials.   Interestingly enough, I was also able to take advantage of a vastly expanded e-book catalog on our campus’s library website.  

Sharing Best Practices: I hope that by making my website public, rather than locking it behind a private intranet, anyone interested can see what’s possible with Open Educational Resources.  I invite anyone interested in OER to visit  

About the Instructor

Dr. Julie Chisholm  

Professor of Culture & Communication, California State University, Maritime Academy.

I'm a third-generation Californian from the South Bay Area.  I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains with my husband and twin daughters.  

Courses I teach include: Introduction to Composition, Critical Thinking, Advanced Writing, Ethics, and Creative Writing.