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Ethics for a Better Future

Understanding and responding to the ethical challenges lying ahead.
This full-day online intensive course aims to demystify, explain and apply ethics by applying concepts into future-focused scenarios.

The world faces great challenges, most of them directly or indirectly related to science and resources. Climate change, environmental degradation, growing social and economic imbalance and inequality, and lack of access to essential resources are important factors rapidly leading us toward greater uncertainty and instability.

This situation – exacerbated by complex geo-politics, the emergence of violent non-state actors, and soon-to-become ideal conditions for war – represents a significant threat to both traditional and non-traditional security.

There is growing recognition of the importance of teaching ethics at university to better understand the critical questions at stake.

This one-day online intensive course aims to:

  • Demystify ethics and help participants to understand the role ethics plays in the decisions people make every day – professionally and privately.
  • Apply ethics in considering technological advances, e.g. applications of robotics in agriculture, medicine, and Defence. (Links to articles). It will also consider ethics in relation to hybrid research applications - both civilian and military.
  • Emphasise the need for ethically-based national strategies and foreign policy. Strategy development, and its operational policy, requires a national and individual constitution exercised through ethical boundaries.
  • Help participants to identify and address conflicts of interest - as we are facing a rapid growth in contract research and business-led research.

Course details

Duration 1 day
Delivery mode Online, intensive format

Morning session: Concepts

Afternoon session: two scenarios

Focus Experiential learning
Cohort size

Maximum of 20 participants to maximise learning.

Prior knowledge Not required
Notes Provided to all participants

2024 - Australia, and a fictitious Austral-Asian small nation named Canopoa with a population of 1.4 million people, are experiencing a new and highly transmittable strain of a COVID-19, known as the MT variant. Infection rates are estimated well in excess of the Delta variant. As a working group you are to explore the facets of this scenario and work through a decision process to inform National Cabinet whether Australia should provide aid to Canopoa through the provision of vaccines to assist them in containing the COVID-19 MT variant outbreak. Read more

Ethics gives us the capacity for argumentation, independent of the content of the arguments. An understanding and application of ethics take us a step closer to trust – trust in individuals and trust in systems. Trust is an abstract concept, in that can be earned and built over time in a relationship – be it human, technological, or hybrid. It cannot be imposed by one party onto the other. Human-AI systems in Defence, for example, need to be trusted by users and operators, by commanders and support staff and by the military, government, and civilian population of a nation. Control within most systems, however, comes back to some human input, as humans devise the programs. At some point, AI will do it by itself and be applying its own rules. At what point does this become nihilistic? Understanding how uncertainty is managed by AI is critical. These are important ethical issues. Read more

Contact us

Associate Professor Jean Bogais
Program Director

Associate Professor Jean Bogais is a Paris-Sorbonne educated Sociologist (PhD) and Social & Cross-Cultural Psychologist, with over 35 years' experience as an academic and professional working in spaces of violence. His principal (bilingual) research, teaching and practice interests are Ethics, Geo-Politics, Systems Thinking, Ideology, Extremism, and Negotiation.

T +61 2 9114 0906
M +61 438 724546

Adjunct Associate Professor Chris Smallhorn 

Chris Smallhorn

Adjunct Associate Professor Chris Smallhorn has had a distinguished career in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) since 1987 when he qualified as an Experimental Test Pilot. He assumed several senior leadership roles that included Officer-in-Charge of the Navy’s Flight Test, Director of the Navy’s Maritime Safety Bureau, Commander of the Fleet Air Arm, and Director General Contestability. Throughout his career, Chris’ focus has been on creating ethical frameworks at all levels of operation in the RAN. He brings a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to the program.

Charlotte Baker
Client Services Officer, Executive Education

T +61 2 8627 9448