Morality and the Great War 1914-18

World War I, which began exactly 100 years ago, was a defining experience for the modern world.  In this FYE program, we will discuss the multiple causes of that war, key events and developments during the war, and the many ways in which World War I shaped the following century.  At the same time, we will be examining some of the moral issues posed by that war through the lens of various moral/ethical philosophies to find what is relevant both to our historical judgments and to choices we all have to make in our own public and private lives today. 

The major project for students in this program will be to research and write a paper that applies one principle of “just war” theory to some event or aspect of World War I.  As we work with you through various stages of this project, you will be drawing on the substantive knowledge about historical developments and moral principles you will be gaining from the Philosophy and History courses in the program, and you will gain some experience with the analytical tools of these two disciplines.

HIST111 Historical Perspectives – World War I – Dr. Gregory Sandford

A cataclysm of unprecedented proportions, World War I shattered the political order of Europe and began Europe’s decline as the center of global power.  As the first major war of the industrial age, it introduced new lethal technologies such as tanks, machine guns, and aerial bombardment.  It deepened the cultural pessimism of the West, promoted the development of communism and fascism, but also stimulated new artistic movements and progress toward greater social equality, especially for women.

In this course we will study the causes, events, and effects of the First World War, including its wider significance for subsequent history.  In doing so, we will also examine the historian’s craft: how we analyze and interpret historical events in order to draw meaningful and useful conclusions from them.

PHIL 220 Introduction to Ethics – Crystal Allen-Gunasekera

In this course, we will learn about ethical theories and principles by applying them to World War I. By applying principles to this war, we can learn ways to evaluate the choices made by individuals and states, as well as our own choices. Applying ethical principles and theories to a case also helps us to examine those principles and decide whether we really endorse them. We will focus on questions such as: under what conditions can it be just to go to war? What rules should soldiers follow during a conflict? Can it be morally just for a soldier to refuse to fight? What would a fair peace treaty look like? Was the Treaty of Versailles unfair?

In the Integrated Learning course you will develop skills to help you succeed in college and beyond, including personal organization, working with others, and oral and written communications.

HIST111 WW  Historical Perspectives: World War I (GEH) 3SH  MWF 9:00–9:50 a.m.
PHIL220 WW  Introduction to Ethics                        (GEH) 3SH  TR     1:30–2:45 p.m.
GEN101 WW  Integrated Learning                                       3SH  TR     9:25–10:40 a.m.