Reflections on Ethics & Economics Summer Program

Each summer, the Ethics Institute at Kent Place runs a summer program for high school students on ethics and economics. The Ethics & Economics Summer Program invites students to engage in thinking about the intersection of the economy, business, and government through an ethical lens. Below are reflections from two students who attended the program this summer.

Angela H. ’25

Ethics is inevitably connected with our lives, guiding our decisions, actions, and impact on society. Economics, on the other hand, focuses on the production and distribution of goods and services. The intersection between these completely different studies in applicability is fascinating: the importance of ethics in economic decisions to create prosperity in society. Minimum wages, gasoline prices, and food insecurities are just a few essential issues that require both an ethical and economic approach. However, can these matters ever be resolved? During the Ethics and Economic summer program, we visited a food bank, where we learned about how to prioritize resources and the trade-offs involved in supply and demand. We discussed and debated questions such as: what should we prioritize as a community so that everyone has access to healthy food? Should every economic decision be decided based on its impact on the environment? As a human race, what are the obligations everyone should be entitled to?

It’s important to learn about economics through the lens of ethics because economic decisions are usually decided by leaders, and with leadership comes responsibility. Leaders often make tough and complicated trade-offs, and economic growth is promoted by weighing the costs and benefits of each option from an ethical standpoint. During the last few days of the summer program, we worked on a project where we designed our own society, choosing which resources and values to prioritize, which government system to implement, how much control the government should have over our economy, and creating a set of norms citizens are required to follow. With each decision came a trade-off, in which we had to consider each advantage and disadvantage and the ethical values that are important to us. It isn’t selfishness that promotes the public good, it is empathy that does. It isn’t competition that produces economic prosperity, it is the cooperation between leaders who embrace the intersection of ethics and economics that does.

Claire C. ’26

Both ethics and economics individually are interests of mine, but I really hadn’t thought to look at them together before the summer program. They both seem very different, economics being factual and mathematical, and ethics being subjective and case by case. By they are actually more relevant to each other than I thought. It’s important to understand economics through the lens of ethics because even if it just seems like hard numbers, it’s not. Those decisions have a real and important impact on people’s lives, and we need to understand that so that the “best” choice isn’t just based on the largest profit. Since the summer program, I’ve started to look at current events in a more comprehensive way, not just listening to what is being said on the news but thinking about how certain choices were made and if they were the best ones. The program brought new light to some of my favorite subjects and made me reconsider my opinion on relevant real-world issues.