PSA 305: Ethics in PSA

Course Description

This course will focus on exploring case issues and philosophies as they relate to personal and professional accountability in the public safety environment. (3 credits)


  • ENG 101: English Composition 1
  • ENG 102: English Composition 2
  • Background in public safety or obtained permission from the instructor to take this course

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Solve complex ethical case studies, both general and professional
  2. Identify personal ethical thinking. For example, the student will be able to self-analyze him/herself and society's levels of ethical behavior and decision making using such tools as Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moral development, virtue ethics, character ethics, and other spheres of ethical thinking.
  3. Delineate the nine ethical theories that rule the world, and where your ethical thinking fits, if at all, in this spectrum. In particular, you will be able to articulate the major ideas and flaws of several ethical options and to analyze contemporary and classical ethical case studies wherein these ethical ideas may be relevant and applicable. The outcomes of your analysis.
  4. Describe the four basic worldviews - theism (or ethical theism), naturalism, humanism, and pantheism/transcendentalism. Each has a long history and each has modern manifestations --- modern manifestations that go under many different names which is to say, for example, that pantheism/transcendentalism probably is not even called that today, but as Shakespeare said, "a rose by any other name smells just as sweet." And you will be able to explain why a world view is so critical to life and ethics, and how these world views manifest themselves in everyday life and ethical decision making, and be able to critique them vis-a-vis their logical coherence, relevance, and adequacy to known facts.
  5. Articulate a social and professional ethical theory that you can use in every day situations, and be able to identify such theories in action as others make ethical decisions.
  6. Assess the students' own values framework and the impact of the andragogical experience upon your values perspective through discussions, case studies, problem solving, written reviews, and a Life Applications paper and presentation.

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading


Writing Assignments & Article Responses (Week 1-4)


Discussion Participation (Week 1-5)


Movie Report (Week 4)


Life Applications Paper - Final Project (Week 5)




Required Textbooks

Available through Charter Oak State College's online bookstore

  • Johnson, Craig E. Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership. 7th ed. Sage Publications, Inc., 2021. ISBN 13: 978-1-5443-5164-3

Additional Required Material

  • Video: Twelve Angry Men, 1957 Henry Fonda version or the 1997 Courtney Vance version, or another recent version. Any of the three films are fantastic and can easily be used for this assignment.

Course Schedule

WeekReadings and ExercisesAssignments


Topic: Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership
  • Weekly Learning Outcomes:
    1. Define ethics in a public safety setting.
    2. Explain both deontological and teleological approaches to ethics.
    3. Evaluate the methodology and ethical significance behind mission, vision, and value statements.
    4. Examine case studies of violations of public safety ethics.
  • Readings:
    • Textbook: Chapters 1 and 2, pp. 1-68
  • Read assigned part and article
  • Participate in the Discussion Board
  • Begin formulating ideas for Final Paper
  • Submit Introduction in Discussions
  • Submit Ethics Theory Essay in Discussions
  • Submit News Article Discussion


Topics: Nine Ethical Theories and the Leader's Character
  • Weekly Learning Outcomes:
    1. Identify various recent case studies and how ethics was breached in each one.
    2. Compare various public safety agencies’ mission, vision, and values statements, paying particular attention as to what effect these will be in developing an agency that acts ethically.
    3. Examine personal situations that have affected decision-making mechanisms.
  • Readings:
    • Textbook: Chapters 3 and 4, pp. 69-142
  • Read assigned part and article
  • Participate in the Discussion Board
  • Submit Writing Assignment
  • Submit Article Response


Topics: Ethical Perspectives and Leadership Theories
  • Weekly Learning Outcomes:
    1. Identify various recent case studies and how ethics was breached in each one.
    2. Compare various personality types and how they affect decision-making mechanisms.
    3. Incorporate the concept of social ethics in the realm of public safety ethics.
    4. Incorporate various critical thinking and creative methods into scenarios that will help encourage and educate public safety personnel.
  • Readings:
    • Textbook: Chapters 5-8, pp. 143-282
  • Video:
    • Watch the Ted Talk "Ethics Kept Simple" (link located in "Course Documents")
  • Read assigned part and article
  • Take Internet Personality Tests
  • Complete Week 3 Discussion
  • Submit TED TALK essay


Topic: Ethical Decision Making
  • Weekly Learning Outcomes:
    1. Identify and explore critical ethics issues in public safety.
    2. Incorporate various critical thinking methods through ethical situation case study analysis that will help encourage and educate public safety personnel.
  • Readings:
    • Textbook: Chapters 9 and 10, pp. 283-363
  • Read assigned pages and article
  • Participate in the Discussion Board
  • Submit Article Response
  • Submit Movie Assignment


Topic: Ethical Life Application
  • Weekly Learning Outcomes:
    1. Describe at least five contemporary issues that have ethical implications.
    2. Identify various recent case studies and how ethics was breached in each one.
    3. Analyze the various concepts and elements of worldviews facing people today.
    4. Review the past course’s impact upon the student.
  • Readings:
    • Textbook: Chapters 11,12 and the Epilogue, pp. 364-441
  • Read assigned pages
  • Participate in the Discussion Board
  • Submit Final Research Project- Life Application Paper
  • Complete Course Evaluation

COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.