The philosophical question in the Honors Social Ethics class is: What constitutes a good life for human beings? And some students find the answer in part by engaging in good works.

Greg Fried“Our main texts are the works of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who argued that a good life is a life through which all of our potential is fulfilled, which includes active engagement with other members of our community,” said Professor Greg Fried, chair of the Philosophy Department, who teaches the course.

Fried’s students volunteer at non-profit organizations in the Boston area as part of the course. This semester students may serve and learn by:

  • Preparing nutritious meals for people living with critical and chronic illnesses and their families
  • Offering English-language tutoring to those who want it and helping them find employment
  • Providing academic support, life skills development, and tennis/fitness instruction to middle-school students.

“The goal is for our students to confront philosophical ideas through their experience of working with different populations and situations in the real world,” said Fried.

Students are required to compete 25 hours of service during the semester. They also are responsible for writing an initial reflection paper about their expectations, keeping a journal on their experience in relation to the philosophical content of the course, and submitting a final reflection paper analyzing and evaluating their overall experience.

Fried encourages his students to think about the connections between the issues and information discussed in class and their own service learning experiences.

“These students learn so many skills, like working with others, responsibility, and following a schedule,” he said. “They get so much out of this course that will help them later on in life.”