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
Tuesdays, 4:45 – 5:45 pm

March 5
Mike Dacey, Department of Philosophy, Bates College

March 12
Manoj Thomas, Department of Marketing and Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business


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/COGST 4940/HD 4940/PHIL 3915 - Moral Psychology in Action -- Taught by Charlie Trautmann

Please Note: Both sections of this course have been combined. The entire class will meet in 204 Uris Hall on Wednesdays at 2:00 – 4:30 pm. First class to be held on January 24.

"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, nonprofits, 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.

Our Partners

Art to Open Doors is a hands-on art class designed specifically for English language learners at Open Doors English language school on North Cayuga Street. The program simultaneously bolsters both visual and verbal communication, giving students multifaceted opportunities for self-expression as they experiment with art materials and develop their English proficiency.

Students will gain experience with a variety of visual art forms including printmaking, painting, drawing, bookmaking, and fiber arts while developing the English skills needed to engage with the arts. Since this is a pilot course, much of your responsibilities will evolve and be discovered as we work, but they will include helping with communication and comprehension for students with lower English proficiency, as well as basic classroom set up and material preparation.

Taught by artist Melissa Zarem, along with visiting artists, classes will meet for two hours each Friday (additional time for set up, etc.) and will operate within an approximate 12-week academic calendar.

At Cornell's Botanic Gardens a student will assist their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Coordinator with pest scouting and invasive species removal. In addition, the student will have the opportunity to participate in work projects in the Gardens alongside horticulture staff and volunteers.

This entails outdoor fieldwork for a few hours each week. The student will need to be able to get to the Horticulture Center on Caldwell Road and to get a ride to the Arboretum, where most of the work happens; sometimes work will take place in the main gardens at the Nevin Welcome Center. Student should be physically fit, able to lift, bend, squat, etc., and be comfortable working in cold/wet weather conditions with appropriate clothing and footwear for the elements. This experience will provide a great opportunity to learn about land stewardship, horticulture, and botanic garden management.

At Court Street Place a site for transitory housing in downtown Ithaca, you will help a family of three leave Haiti legally. This might include contacting immigration lawyers, filling out forms, raising funds, and providing for assistance and housing once the family arrives in America.

In addition, you will work at the men’s house (Court Street Place), recruiting and creating a Board of Directors and fundraising.

Forest Home Improvement Association is an active organization serving the residential community of Forest Home, which starts at the far end of Beebe Lake. You will assist FHIA in planning for community infrastructure improvements, conducting historical research to document notable residents, and developing an annual dues tracking system.

At The History Center in Tompkins County you will be introduced to the nature of archival work in general, as well as the particulars of The History Center’s mission and processes to preserve and share Tompkins County’s history.

Students will: examine minimally processed archival collections to learn about the contents and history of the materials; research, if necessary, the history or background of the topic(s) covered in the collection; write a finding aid (detailed box list) explaining what’s in the collection; and/or assist the archivist on other projects or tasks, including such things as data entry for our Content Management System, photocopying archival or photographic materials for research or preservation purposes, filing collections registration materials, etc.

HistoryForge is an open-source digital history platform which combines historical census records, maps, photographs, and other sources into a unique way to visualize a community’s history. It also makes the historic demographic data in the 1850-1950 censuses publicly accessible at the community level, enabling community members, genealogists, and scholars to use complete census data to examine historical shifts in immigration, migration, industry, and employment, and to learn about the individuals and families involved.

Students will gain experience in digital history and linked historical data by working on Tompkins HistoryForge, our model site, to help expand its capacity and show how HistoryForge can be used. This will include researching people, buildings, and industries in the community, entering data, cleaning data, and linking historical records, with a special emphasis on Ithaca’s African American population.

Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) supports innovative ideas and activities for students in the 12 Ithaca City School District schools. Every school year, IPEI supports school clubs like the Ithaca High School's Code Red Robotics team and Moroccan Student Exchange, while also awarding grants to teachers and students to fund engaging learning projects in partnership with local organizations.

Possible Projects:

  1. Community Listening Project: Interview Ithaca City students and teachers to discuss current school needs and issues and how IPEI can support their learning and work. Collect testimonials from teachers who are IPEI grant recipients to explore IPEI's community impact and student engagement.
  2. Storytelling Campaign: Create graphics and reels for IPEI's social media platforms to communicate IPEI's impact on local schools and engage community members in discussion around key public education issues.
  3. Inspiring Research: Conduct online research of similar public education foundations to identify inspiring practices around messaging, programs, and partnerships.

Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County would like to work with a student on the topic of philanthropy. The Legacy Foundation will be celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2025 and their goal is to increase the number of people leaving legacy gifts in their wills to this foundation. This requires them to bring more information to community members about the mission and values of the foundation, and how the Legacy Foundation supports the Tompkins County community.

NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Finger Lakes, NY supports, educates, and advocates for people who are caregiving for people that are living with mental illness. They have several projects they are working on and a student should be passionate about mental health education and completing a project to assist in the work we are doing in 2024. The student will not be directly working with the people we serve as that work is done primarily by volunteers.

Possible Projects:

  1. NAMIWalks, a Yearly Fundraiser. This is a fun mental health awareness walk. The student would be assisting the NAMIWalks coach in a targeted area of their choice: corporate sponsorship, recruiting team captains, finding/creating events to be done at the walk, managing the recruitment of people that want to table at our event (including food trucks, other nonprofits, support animals, etc.).
  2. Soliciting and Finding New Partnerships for Youth Mental Health Education: this would involve making phone calls and sharing some of the programming NAMI does, scheduling presentations, etc.

Open Doors English provides affordable, comprehensive English classes, to empower students to live fuller lives, and to build richer community connections. As a volunteer you will interact with students and teachers and have administrative responsibilities, such as, social media and fundraising.

Development of a fundraiser incorporating the many cultures represented in the student population would be a great project and much appreciated.

Petrune Gallery a hip, contemporary working studio and gallery on the Commons, would like to work with a student who is interested in marketing, social media, community engagement, and website development. In addition, student would assist with exhibition planning, execution, and management.

Working with Prisoner Express @ Durland Alternatives Library students will be offered the opportunity to create original programming of their own for prisoners. As examples, one former student created a packet of Rhythms and Drumming, another created a lesson on Meditation and Recovery. Both programs were shared with hundreds of incarcerated men and women.

Students can also choose to take a leadership role in one of the ongoing creative writing, art, or educational programs. You would start by reading incoming mail from prisoners which will give you a clear understanding of the ways in which our programs can benefit the incarcerated population we serve.

At The Sciencenter volunteers are an integral part of the team! If you have an upbeat and positive attitude, strong oral communication skills, and a passion for teaching and learning, they would love to work with you. You will receive ongoing opportunities to grow and gain skills within the organization. Science content expertise is not required.

Possible Projects Might Include:

  1. Education Programming Assistant: You’ll enhance the guest experience by facilitating hands-on activities, supporting memorable interactions with exhibits, and helping to maintain a safe, clean museum environment for all.
  2. Animal Room/Tidepool Touch Tank Facilitator: Introduce our guests to teaching reptiles and Tidepool Touch Tank inhabitants. Training in these areas is available to experienced volunteers.
  3. Special Events: Individuals are needed for two – four-hour shifts at special events, which generally take place on weekends and weekday evenings. Events might include various outreach appearances.

Thrive Ithaca, Ecovillage Education Center is currently focused on a few initiatives that students would support - all related to sharing the lessons learned or furthering research from Ecovillage at Ithaca as a sustainable community model.

Possible Projects:

  1. Resource Page: As one of the most researched ecovillage communities in the world, Thrive is creating a public-facing resource page that lists all coverage (media and research) of the EVI community. Students would help conclude this work which includes finalizing the bibliography, tracking down the links and documents, and website organization.
  2. Residency and Research Support: Thrive hosts researchers who are interested in visiting and learning from the ecovillage model. We are looking at ways to strengthen this aspect of our work and develop a residency program. Students would assist with the proposal for a residency for academic researchers, writers, and artists and how to promote EVI as a research site.
  3. Content Production: Thrive offers monthly online Q&A sessions and other programs that are recorded. Students can help with editing of this material to be posted on their YouTube channel and made available to broader audiences. This would include assistance in producing content - marketing, social media, ideas for informational videos, etc.

Wharton Studio Museum (WSM) is a nonprofit preserving and celebrating Ithaca's movie history.

WSM blog Cinefiles, focuses on films, filmmaking, and film history (silent + otherwise). The blog lives on a platform called Medium. Their goal is to engage people in topics and issues related to movies and moviemaking.

This coming semester WSM will focus the blog on issues and themes related to race and gender representation, underrepresentation, and misrepresentation in motion pictures from the silent era to the present.

A student would delve into this important topic and look for connections between the past and the present. They are looking for a student to manage the blog creatively and organizationally, which entails producing four to six blogposts during the semester: you will be handed the reins to produce written, visual, or interview-based posts and encouraged to lend your personality to the project and make it your own. They’re hoping to engage a younger demographic – people in their late teens, 20s and 30s.

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)