The Moral Psychology Minor


A minor in moral psychology draws students from a variety of majors and provides them with guidance in creating a stimulating academic plan of moral psychology coursework from across disciplines, including philosophy, law, psychology, economics, sociology, along with experiential learning opportunities with community partners to bring the coursework to life. Students will finish the minor prepared to lead the future development of scientifically informed solutions for today's ethical challenges.The minor is available throughout the university to all undergraduate students.

Moral Psychology Speaker Series
150 Warren Hall
4:45 – 5:45 pm
Always on a Tuesday

Rescheduled -- now September 19
Audun Dahl, Dept. of Psychology, Cornell University

September 26
Gordon Pennycook, Dept. of Psychology, Cornell University

October 17
Max Hayward, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Sheffield

October 24
Ovul Sezer, Dept. of Management, Cornell University

November 14
James Beebe, Dept. of Philosophy, SUNY Buffalo


General Requirements

Basic Requirements for the Minor:

  1. Register, ideally, by the beginning of the second semester of junior year.
  2. Successfully complete five courses (minimum of 15 credits) from the Approved Course List. Although only five courses are required to complete the minor, we assume students interested in moral psychology will often end up taking more. Courses taken for the moral psychology minor by freshmen and sophomores, may not be used toward a student’s major or another minor. Juniors and seniors may “double count” two courses from their major toward the moral psychology minor.
  3. It is suggested, but not required, that students attend at least two Moral Psychology events within each academic year. (This is separate and apart from individual course requirements.)
  4. Submit the Certification for Graduation form. Students are expected to keep track of the courses they have taken toward the minor. When the minimum of 15 credits has been achieved, the Certification for Graduation form must be submitted to the program manager for verification. This form is required in order to have the minor designation added to your final transcript.

PSYCH 4940/HD 4940/PHIL 3915/AEM 4940 - Moral Psychology in Action -- Laura Niemi & Charlie Trautmann

“Moral Psychology in Action” is an applied psychology course taught each spring for students who want to make a difference in the world through ethical leadership and positive contributions in organizations, and who are drawn to scholarly work on psychology, ethics, and morality.

The course is experiential and takes place mostly outside the classroom through community engagement. Students will work with an industry or organization partner specializing in areas including stewardship and sustainability, human rights, well-being and healthy living, and reforming criminal justice, to name a few.

Students will gain practice in applied science that will be beneficial to future work in many occupational settings, including for-profit businesses, non-profits, and with policymakers and government organizations.

Classroom work and course assignments will be individualized to encourage independent development of connections between relevant theory and practice.

Community Partner List

Training and orientation will be provided for all duties and responsibilities. No matter where you work, volunteers are expected to contribute to a culture that supports equity, inclusion, and diversity.

Cayuga Lake Watershed Network identifies key threats to Cayuga Lake and its watershed, and advocates for solutions that support a healthy environment and vibrant, sustainable communities.


Through social media, communications, and marketing, CLWN hopes to increase engagement with the public, and general public awareness in regard to watershed programs, such as climate change, algal blooms, and general watershed issues.

Ithaca-based Court Street Place has supported men transitioning out of homelessness for the last 12 years. CSP works to provide tenants with job training, life skill classes, and mentoring, as well as clothing, toiletries, and wi-fi.


Court Street Place has availability for a student with entrepreneurial interests to create a more definitive vision statement and superior presentation to send with grant applications. In addition, information is needed on what it takes to establish a board; hire an executive director; and grant writing protocol for a 501c organization. This would include researching similar groups to help create a comp report in hopes of working together and learn what others are doing locally to help the less fortunate with housing.

Downtown Ithaca Alliance is a multidisciplinary downtown revitalization and management program.

Possible Projects:

  1. Business Development: Research on business attraction, i.e., examining possible target businesses from our own region and upstate NY cities. Working in conjunction with the Business Retention & Development committee. Requires interest in qualitative research.
  2. Operation: Detail-oriented person to work on a pilot placemaking program in downtown, where three locations will be selected for tactical urbanism attention. Working in conjunction with director of Operations and the Operations Committee.
  3. MarketingSocial media outreach on behalf of businesses and activities in downtown, to build stronger foot traffic. Working with director of Marketing. Requires knowledge and expertise of social media platforms.
  4. Special Events: Assist in the planning of upcoming events: Pride (June) and Black Hands Market (summer). Work in conjunction with the director of Special Events. 
  5. TransportationAssist in researching intercity bus hub projects in other cities similar to Ithaca. Requires an aptitude and interest in qualitative research.
  6. Development: Assist staff in sponsorship fundraising efforts around events and programs, while providing support to the outreach team. Work in conjunction with the director of Special Events and Marketing.

Durland Alternative Library/Prisoner Express provides information, education, and opportunities for creative self-expression to 4,000 incarcerated participants through a variety of distance learning classes that encourage critical thinking, introspection, and developing better communication skills, while offering programs in psychology, philosophy, chess, art, creative writing, meditation, mental health, and many other topics. Much of their programming for prisoners is created by Cornell students, with biannual hard copy newsletters sent to the participants. Working with participants, students will learn first-hand the humanity of incarcerated women and men who share their thoughts through personal letters and program assignments.


Create a course to be shared with participants; work on a journal program for prisoners; work with the director on a multitude of projects, including writing, editing, and office work.

Family and Children's Services is a private community agency dedicated to supporting, promoting, and strengthening the well-being of individuals and families by providing high-quality, accessible mental health care and related social services, with a particular sensitivity toward the needs of children.


The director of Youth & Outreach is looking to work with a student who has interest in mental health care and primarily children’s needs and services dealing with young children, teens, and young adults. Student will work closely with the director of Y&O to assess their strengths and what is the best fit for their placement.

Ithaca City of Asylum has offered refuge to artists who have been forced to leave their home countries, as, universally, writers, journalists, visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, actors, and other creative people are often censored, harassed, imprisoned, or killed for speaking their minds or exercising their imaginations.


Organization, including publicity, social media, logistics of spring event featuring the ICoA writer-in-residence program. Compilation, follow-thru, and editing of a series of publications by people-at-risk.

Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) serves as a nonprofit sponsor for innovative ideas and activities in the 12 Ithaca City schools. In each academic year IPEI might fund up to $50,000 worth of projects ranging from classroom supplies to school-wide outdoor education initiatives.

Possible Projects:

  1. Learn how outside groups can influence and support local public education. Meet with Ithaca City students and teachers to discuss needs and curriculum planning, and how IPEI can support their learning and work.
  2. Participate in IPEI’s committee and board meetings on volunteer opportunities within a local nonprofit.
  3. Using social media knowledge, etc., you will be asked to think about how IPEI might message their work to invite new donors and new grant applicants.
  4. Potential for student to create a proposal and follow-through, if approved, for a pilot program to aid IPEI in their mission.

NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness,Finger Lakes, NY is an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.


A strong marketing/social media push is needed to grasp NAMI’s mission and increase the number of followers, volunteers, and those in crisis. Goals for the spring include volunteer recruitment socials, fundraisers, etc. In addition, a website designer (Wix) is needed for an updated website.

PRI, Paleontological Research Institution encompasses the Museum of the Earth, Cayuga Nature Center, and Smith Woods. (TCAT Bus service to PRI includes route 14.)

Possible Projects:

  1. Research: PRI is looking for students to assist researcher, Bridget Kelly, with the Eastern Seaboard Mollusk project. This would entail assisting to clean and catalogue samples of oysters and other shellfish from the Gulf Coast in order to add data to our Conservation Paleobiology research.
  2. Outreach: PRI engages in a variety of outreach efforts. Currently, we are looking for students with interest in digital media or production to help expand and develop our online video content.
  3. Education: In the spring, the Museum and Nature Center host KDT, Kids Discover the Trail, which brings in school groups from around Ithaca to a variety of institutions. KDT volunteers would assist in KDT programs on Wednesday mornings, helping set up hands-on activities, ensuring that groups are behaving within the museum, and cleaning up afterwards.
  4. Collections: Our seven million specimen collection is a constant source of projects, ranging from cataloguing to photographing. We are always looking for dedicated volunteers to tackle this collection.
  5. Animal care: At Cayuga Nature Center, volunteers provide food, water, and enrichment for our animal ambassadors. Students will have the opportunity to work with a variety of species, ranging from reptiles and amphibians to small mammals.

Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts supports artists and writers of New York State through two main programs held on their beautiful private residency in Ithaca, NY. (Transportation is needed for this position.)

Project: (Detail-oriented person needed for a handful of mini projects. Will work closely with director.)

  1. Fundraising: Work on May ’23 anniversary fundraiser. Open house-like event for community and visiting artists. Possible ideas would include small auction featuring local alums, art exhibit, fete, entertainment, etc.
  2. Social media and marketing: Need a critical but gentle eye on social media. Would be interested in revamping if deemed necessary.
  3. Impact study: Working up data through zoom meetings and correspondence with foundation alumni to assess the impact their residency had on their work, growth, etc.

Sciencenter is a hands-on science museum in Ithaca, NY. (TCAT Bus service to the Sciencenter include routes 13, 13S, 17.)


Work collaboratively with the education team to support the Sciencenter’s mission and enhance the public experience through the delivery of floor programming in the form of interactive programs, hands-on science activities, and demonstrations.

  1. Public engagement: Answer basic visitor questions and offer an inclusive, welcoming, approachable presence on the museum floor.
  2. Facilitation: Develop science communication skills utilizing developmentally appropriate, inclusive, and culturally responsive methods to deliver STEM activities and demonstrations.
  3. Early childhood education: Facilitate programming specially designed for early learners to explore science processes together.
  4. Prototyping: Assist education staff with activity prototyping and providing feedback for curriculum development; assist with data collection.

THRIVE is the education and outreach arm of Ecovillage at Ithaca inspiring action for thriving people, communities, and our planet. They facilitate a more resilient world through sustainability education at Ithaca EcoVillage, a decades-old model for sustainable living in New York State, and now also through online programs. Requires interest in the topics of ecological and social sustainability.

Possible Projects:

  1. Sociocratic/dynamic governance through participation in meetings and circles.
  2. Program planning for knowledge exchange on topics ranging from food/agriculture, health/wellness, green building/design, land conservation, ecological living, and governance models.
  3. Content creation: this could include videos, e-courses, a podcast, social media, website content, etc.
  4. Grant research and writing.
  5. Research: bird safe design policy/practice; zoning for intentional communities; passive house/best practices; carshare/transportation.
  6. Archiving: 30 years of research, publications to be made available to the general public.

Wharton Studio Museum is a nonprofit preserving and celebrating Ithaca's role in early American filmmaking and developing the historic Wharton Studio building in Stewart Park into a park center with exhibits and installations about film history. An interest in film and/or film history is a plus.

Possible Project:

The reimagination and launch of WSM’s blog Cine Files (Tumbler). Student will work with the executive director but have much autonomy in regard to revamping the blog; hiring contributors, in addition to contributing their own content; developing a social media marketing strategy to publicize the blog; and ensure a path forward for the blog once the semester ends.

Contact Information


For more information contact:
Julie Simmons-Lynch, Program Manager
278A Uris Hall
Phone: 607-255-6431

Advisory Board

  • Vanessa Bohns (ILR)
  • Anthony Burrow (Dept. of Psychology)
  • John Doris (Dyson School & Dept. of Philosophy)
  • Tom Gilovich (Dept. of Psychology)
  • Rachana Kamtekar (Depts. of Philosophy and Classics)
  • Shaun Nichols (Dept. of Philosophy)
  • Laura Niemi (Dept. of Psychology)
  • Derk Pereboom (Dept. of Philosophy)
  • David Pizarro (Dept. of Psychology)
  • Valerie Reyna (Dept. of Psychology)
  • David Shoemaker (Dept. of Philosophy)
  • Joe Thomas (emeritus, SC Johnson)

Faculty Advisors

  • Angus Hildreth (SC Johnson)
  • Ravi Kanbur (Dyson School)
  • Kevin Kniffen (Dyson School)
  • Kate Manne (Dept. of Philosophy)
  • Julia Markovits (Dept. of Philosophy)
  • Tony Simons (Hotel School)
  • Simone Tang (Hotel School)