William R. and Betsy P. Leitch Ethics Seminars

It is a great honor for us that Bill Leitch '56 has agreed to a new name for Radius’s course offerings, which will now be known as the William R. and Betsy P. Leitch Ethics Seminars. Future students will receive a clear message that this MIT alum is watching out for them and championing their ethical growth. We know Bill will be as much of an inspiration to them as he has been to all of us.

In Spring 2020 we offered two undergraduate ethics seminars.

Being, Thinking, Doing (Or Not!): Ethics in Your Life

Offered in cooperation with the MIT Philosophy Department (Course 24.191 in Room 32-D461, Tuesdays 7:00-8:30pm).  
Led by Quinn White (Postdoctoral Associate in Philosophy) and Patricia-Maria Weinmann (Radius Associate Coordinator). 

Our weekly seminar introduces students to the field of ethics, with a focus on the daily choices we can make to create a more just world. The seminar helps students build relationships, investigate ethical problems, share resources, and clarify their personal and vocational principles. The course also introduces students to the work of guest scholars representing a variety of disciplines, including philosophy, economics, environmental studies, and urban planning.  A delicious dinner is served each week!  

Building the Beloved Community: Ethics and Public Life

Offered with the Educational Jusitice Initiative (ESG. S91 at the Boston Pre-Release Center, Mondays 6:00-8:00pm)

Provided through the generous support of the MIT Institute Community and Equity Office and William R. Leitch '56
Led by Shannon Schmidt (Prison Educator) and Thea Keith-Lucas (Radius Coordinator)

This course is designed around the question “What do we owe to each other?” We use a range of interdisciplinary lenses to examine the moral challenges and dilemmas which accompany community life. Students learn to apply the tools of ethical theory to their examination of topics including climate change, racism, economic inequality, and more. Over the course of the semester, students are challenged to dig into the ethical implications of social decisions made at individual and collective levels. As an inside-out course, which brings together a cohort of MIT students and a cohort of incarcerated students, the class itself serves as a model for community. Students are expected to actively examine the dynamics of their own classroom relationships. What do we learn by moving through the barrier between incarceration and broader society? What, perhaps above all, do our social positions in relation to our classmates teach us about the responsibilities of community life?

The course is held in a minimum-security prison facility, the Boston Pre-Release Center in Roslindale, MA.


What students say about our ethics seminars:

  • “This class provided me with a foundation and vocabulary to be able to articulate my thoughts.”
  • “I really value that I got to talk with other students—especially those who didn’t think the same way I do. It was helpful to find common ground.”
  • “When I would hear other students’ thoughts, it would shake me up.”
  • “This class gave me the opportunity to study ethics in an applied way using solid information—great combination of facts and ethics!”
  • “I loved the different voices and opinions.”
  • “Now I have to figure out how to sustain my awareness and commit to change.”