Two Business Ethics Students Use Video to Reflect on Ethics and the Climate Crisis - GTEC Green Technology Education Centre

Dr. Charles Scott introduces this video and the two students who produced it, Isabel Chan and Kassley Kangleon who then use the vehicle to consider ethics and the Climate Crisis.


by Charles Scott

The British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead in The Aims of Education published in 1916 wrote that there is nothing more harmful than “inert ideas” or “ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized, or tested, or thrown into fresh combinations” (p.1). Therefore, when the education system is based on such ill formed ideas, it will not be worth that much.  One of the ways to prevent this is to teach the subjects that students need. The other way is to teach comprehensively. In fact, through using these ways, teachers give the students the opportunity of internalizing the knowledge, making it their own and finding the proper usage of it in actual life.

There are two important points in the process of scientific training. The first one is “proof” which means whatever is taught is usable and worthwhile. So according to Whitehead, on the training trajectory proof and utilization have the same meaning. In other words, “Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilization of knowledge” (Whitehead, 1916, p.4).

The other point is understanding. Education should be designed in a way that students understand everything by heart since incomplete understanding will be very detrimental.

As a result, every single thing within the students’ curriculum should be applicable in actual life. Only in this way can the problem of inert knowledge be solved.

I teach in both the Bachelor of Arts in Management (BAM) and the M.Ed. program in School Counselling program at City University Canada. In the former program, I have taught the upper level Seminar in Ethics course as well as the upper level course in Critical Thinking; in the latter program, I teach a course in Research Methods as well as the Advanced Issue in School Counselling course. I also teach in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University, where I help co-coordinate a Master’s program in Contemplative Inquiry and Approaches in Education.

Relationality, intersubjectivity, interconnectedness, and interdependence are all primary themes in all my teaching and research work. In the ethics seminar, we had focused on these themes in the course. As the students represented a number of cultures from around the world, we examined these themes through the various wisdom traditions of east and west: Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Indigenous traditions. We also looked at some of the moral philosophers of the west—such as Charles Taylor, Nell Noddings, Carol Gilligan, Sara Ruddick—whose work centers on relationality. The similarities in all these works were evident, striking, and compelling.

As you can see from Kassley and Isabel, literature also played a part. The work of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as an existentialist also focused primarily on relationships and their value to us, as well as on learning the essentials of life and how to perceive them. One of his most treasured expressions of these ideas comes in the advice given the little prince by the fox: “on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” As Katherine Woods translates: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Kassley and Isabel see rightly.

In creating assignments, I try to move away from the traditional “write an essay” toward modes of expression the students tell me are more compelling to them. I hope you will find this video as compelling as I did.

One additional note. The unearthed dandelion in the video used to demonstrate the usefulness of the entire plant and how the root system works was carefully replanted after the demonstration.

Background Information for the Video 

by Isabel Chan and Kassley Kangleon 

This video was produced for our Business Ethics Practicum Course at City University in Canada. The video is a summary of what we actually learned from the ethics seminar. We will never forget the deep and valuable lessons from that seminar! We acquired so much from the class and we tried to squeeze and connect everything into this one video.

Firstly, we talked about the story of “The Little Prince” and how many moral lessons we can get from it. Lessons about the significance of love, interconnectedness, and the potential to see the true essence of things. This well-known story inspired us while making the entire video.

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” as Julia Kindt quotes in her essay on the subject (Kindt, 2020). The simple line from the book builds an association with what we discussed in class about ethical healing and moral courage.

The lesson was even more clear and real when we did our trips to the Seawall near Canada Place and to the Van Dusen Botanical Garden. It awakened our senses in all aspects (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch). Most significantly, we became in touch and at one again with nature, which pulls us back to the fact that we are all interconnected and interdependent. We need each other in order to create that balance and to be able to survive.

The activities we did in our small excursion gave us that moral courage to stand for what is right. One thing we can do is to feed the people literally or through wisdom and support, touching the hearts involved. When one uses one’s own heart and touches the other’s heart, ethical healing forms. It is from the heart when a person sees what is right. It creates that positive ripple effect toward all living and nonliving things involved, hence, the balance will be achieved.

The whole experience from the class inspired and helped us in collating everything in this video. It’s a simple video and may not give justice to the actual experience we had in class but all the essential things are captured.

Charles Scott, Ph.D. teaches in both the Bachelor of Arts in Management (BAM) program and in the M.Ed. program in School Counselling at City University Canada. He also teaches in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University, where he helps co-coordinate a Master’s program in Contemplative Inquiry and Approaches in Education.