Teaching Ethics


published on February 26, 2020

Olivia Burgess

Stand Where You Stand on Omelas
An Activity for Teaching Ethics with Science Fiction

Science fiction is gaining academic recognition as a tool for teaching ethics and engaging potentially resistant students in communication and critical thinking, but there are not many lesson plans available for how to implement science fiction in the classroom. I hope to address that gap by sharing a successful lesson plan I developed while teaching a first-year composition and ethics course at the Colorado School of Mines. “Stand Where You Stand on Omelas” combines writing, communication, and ethical decision making by asking students to defend what they would do as a citizen in Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” where a young child’s torment ensures the prosperity and happiness of society as a whole.