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Week 1: The Foundations of Social ResponsibilityI believe many of us want to pursue something more than relentless self-interest—what Thomas Moore calls “a national persona of hype, ambition, narcissism, and materialism.” We would like to find ways to connect with each other, express our compassion, and experience a sense of purpose impossible to attain through private pursuits alone. When we don’t find ways to voice this larger self, our most generous impulses have nowhere to go.

—Paul Rogat Loeb (2010, p. 42)
Nearly every religion, ancient and modern government, and philosopher has advocated for the necessity of citizens to participate in socially responsible behavior. An individual’s sense of morality contributes to his or her personal responsibility and obligation to act as a socially responsible citizen. Social change does not occur suddenly but evolves as the result of a committed group of people working in strategic and focused ways to address a social issue over time. Similarly, an individual’s sense of morality and social responsibility does not develop suddenly but is the result of his or her collective life experiences, family, community, and circumstances.This week’s resources and activities focus on the diverse concepts of what it means to be socially responsible based on the origins of your own perspective of social responsibility. In your Discussion, you address personal definitions of social responsibility. In the Assignment, you analyze connections between theories of morality and cultural identity.Learning ObjectivesStudents will:Analyze influences that shape personal values regarding social responsibilityDevelop personal definitions for social responsibilityAnalyze connections between theories of morality and cultural identityAnalyze cultural identity’s influence on social responsibilityYou Are Defining and Defined by Social ResponsibilityThe first observation of a social issue can be confusing for a young person. Witnessing extremes of wealth and poverty from one neighborhood to the next—or from one country to another—or hearing statistics related to literacy and school dropout rates in developed countries can be both shocking and baffling. While growing up, how did your community of family, friends, and teachers respond to social disparities? Were social issues ignored or confronted? Did you perceive a sense of helplessness or a responsibility to seek solutions?Your own orientation toward social responsibility may have been shaped, directly or indirectly, by the cultural norms of your community. Whether you feel burdened by the myriad social concerns in the world today or called to address them, your response stems, in part, from how you see yourself in the world in relation to others.Learning ResourcesRequired ReadingsLoeb, P. R. (2010). Soul of a citizen: Living with conviction in challenging times (rev. ed.). New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.
Chapter 1, “Making Our Lives Count” (pp. 21–41)Chapter 2, “We Don’t Have to Be Saints” (pp. 42–63)Brink, D. (2014). Mill’s moral and political philosophy. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2014 ed.). Retrieved from
The golden rule. (1991). In A. Wilson (Ed.), World scripture: A comparative anthology of sacred texts (pp. 114–115). St. Paul, MN: Paragon House.
Used by permission of Paragon House.
Johnson, R. (2014). Kant’s moral philosophy. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Summer 2014 ed.). Retrieved from
Kraut, R. (2014). Aristotle’s ethics. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Summer 2014 ed.). Retrieved from
Document: Cultural Genogram: Dimensions of Culture (Word document)
Required MediaLaureate Education (Producer). (2015a). Exploring the foundations of social responsibility [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.
1. In this Discussion, you explore the influence of personal values on your concept of social responsibility.
PART 1.To prepare for this Discussion:
Review examples of social responsibility presented in the assigned readings from the Loeb course text.Review “The Golden Rule” from this week’s Learning Resources to identify commonalities across quotes and to determine whether any quotes align with your own values.Complete the Cultural Genogram: Dimensions of Culture document located in this week’s Learning Resources to identify personal values related to social responsibility. Consider the direct or indirect influences that may have shaped your own orientation to social responsibility.Think of the community or communities in which you grew up. What issues of concern or needs did you see addressed directly or indirectly? What issues were not addressed? Why?Think about circumstances in your life that might have influenced your definition of social responsibility.Did any of your family members choose careers or activities that served the community in which they lived?Consider the convictions you hold today that were formed early in life. Think about how they now influence the way you view social responsibility.Bring to mind a specific socially responsible act that you would consider influential in your life.Read the Discussion Spark topic, question, or comment posted by your Instructor in the Discussion thread.PART 2: Post a response to the Discussion Spark post. Your response should contain at least two significantparagraphs. Read the Discussion Rubric, as it will inform your writing. Important Note: The Discussion Spark and the weekly Discussion topic below will be graded together. You will see one score in your My Grades area.PART 3:Post an example of a socially responsible act that has influenced your life. Explain why this example influenced you and describe how this act and the motivation behind it reflect your personal values regarding social responsibility. For instance, are there particular aspects of social change that resonate with you? In addition, define social responsibility in your own words and provide two examples from this week’s Resources that support or influence the development of your definition.

2. Assignment: Morality and Social ResponsibilityPhilosophical perspectives and theories on morality contribute to an understanding of the deep-rooted human need to question the role human beings play in society. Whether your views align with those of Aristotle, Kant, or Mill, you can explore the reasons behind your inherent motivation to act responsibly. At the outset of your life, you develop habits of thought based on what you are exposed to, where you live, with whom you live, and your experiences. In this Application Assignment, you critically examine these experiences as well as theoretical perspectives on morality and assess how they impact your moral and cultural identity. You also assess how these experiences influence your concept of social responsibility.To prepare for this Assignment:Read the articles by Brink (2014), Johnson (2014), and Kraut (2014) in this week’s resources. Summarize the key points of each theory. Does one theory resonate with you more than another? Why or why not?Make connections to your own culture. Consider whether these three theories are reflected in your own culture.Review the Cultural Genogram: Dimensions of Culture document in this week’s Resources. Think about the ways different dimensions of culture inform your moral identity (e.g., how your national, ethnic, and/or gender identity informs your moral identity).Consider how different dimensions of culture inform your concept of social responsibility.By Day 7Write a 2-page analysis connecting the three theories of morality to your own cultural identity.Explain how the theories align or do not align with your cultural identity. Include how cultural identity impacts social responsibility.Provide at least three references using proper APA format.In order to receive full credit, all Assignments are due on time. Should you encounter an unanticipated and uncontrollable life event that may prevent you from meeting an assignment deadline, contact the Instructor immediately to request an extension. Your Instructor’s contact information is in the Contact the Instructor area in the left navigation bar. For a full description of the late policy, please refer to the “Policies on Late Assignments” area of your Syllabus.

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