While typical college courses on ethics tend to focus on Plato or Aristotle, a new continuing education course premiering at Utah Valley State College is expected to take head-on the real-life ethical issues of our modern times.

"This isn't a course about dead guys" (like most ethics and philosophy courses), said David Keller, director for the UVSC Center for the Study of Ethics.

Ethics in America is a course being offered to the public at UVSC as a way to debate some of the most difficult ethical issues of our time. You don't have to be a registered student to take the course, but no college credit will be given either.

"For many years I felt the ethics center needed to reach out to the community," Keller said.

The monthlong course, which begins Sept. 28 and is held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., focuses on an acclaimed video series "Ethics in America."

The series presents panel discussions by some of the leading figures in America, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and even former University of Utah President Chase Peterson.

Ethical discussions will revolve around subjects like medical and clergy confidentiality, as well as honesty versus integrity.

Among other scenarios, the class will discuss:

An economically disadvantaged student cheats on his entrance exam. What do you do if you're the parent, or if you're the test administrator?

A man confesses to his church leader that he murdered his fiancee. What should the clergy member do?

A White House lawyer witnesses the chief of staff striking his wife during a party. Does the lawyer tell the president? When the media calls about it, should the lawyer lie to protect the White House image?

A physician finds out one of his patients has a serious form of breast cancer but she won't come in for treatment. Should he tell her husband?

"It's a real discussion-based course aimed at people who are just interested in contemporary public policy and public affairs," Keller said.

For more information on the Ethics in America course, call 863-8012. If the course gets enough people registered, Keller said they may think about expanding the class.

Keller said people should come prepared for some pretty lively discussion on some of the most difficult issues of our time.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com