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Volunteerism and the Ethics of Help (324-0-1)


Noelle Sullivan
1800 Sherman Ave, Suite 1-200, #1-102, Evanston

Meeting Info

555 Clark 230: Wed 10:00AM - 12:50PM

Overview of class

Since the early 2000s, there has been an explosion of interest in volunteering in low-income communities: within orphanages, clinics, schools, conservation projects, refugee camps, and housing projects. At the same time, volunteering has become a significant issue of public debate, as unintended consequences of people's best intentions are brought to light in the popular press and in academic literature. This class explores the ethics of altruism through the discourses and practices that make up volunteering and voluntourism, from the perspectives of volunteers, hosts, and a range of others both promoting and critiquing volunteerism. What motivates people to volunteer among strangers or in unfamiliar contexts, and what are the implications of these voluntary exchanges for the volunteers, and for the communities and institutions where volunteering takes place? What are the ethics and values that make up "making a difference" among differently-situated players involved in volunteering? Given that volunteers often act upon best intentions, what are the logics and values that justify altruistic action, and the differential standards by which volunteers are judged based on where they go and how they engage in volunteering? What kinds of unintended consequences come about through voluntary action? This class highlights the need go beyond the adage "any help is better than no help at all," and instead bring critical thinking to altruistic intentions.

Class Materials (Required)

Adams, Vincanne. Markets of Sorrow, Labors of Faith : New Orleans in the Wake of Katrina. Duke University Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-8223-5449-9

All remaining class materials will be available on Canvas.

Class Attributes

Ethical and Evaluative Thinking Foundational Disci
Global Perspectives on Power, Justice, and Equity
Ethics & Values Distro Area
No Freshmen

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Freshmen may not register for this course.