Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Program Structure

Part of Virtue Ethics

After the first one, all workshops share the same basic structure. Activities explore the meaning of a particular virtue and its "upside" and "downside," the virtue's role in participants' lives so far, hypothetical dilemmas, and finally, ways the youth could incorporate the virtue into their actions and thus their character. If you wish to extend the program, you can use the workshop template to explore additional virtues you find worthy.

Faith in Action is an important element in the Tapestry of Faith curriculum family. Some Faith in Action activities can be completed in one meeting or simply by extending the workshop time. Others are longer-term and/or need dates and locations outside your regular meeting time and space.

Every workshop offers alternate activities. Use these to replace a core activity, extend a workshop, or enhance an extracurricular gathering such as a family retreat, multigenerational dinner, or youth group.

Each workshop provides:


Co-leaders may like to discuss the quote while preparing for a workshop. This can help you each feel grounded in the ideas and activities you will present and can also help co-leaders get "on the same page." The quotes also appear in Taking It Home sections.


The Introduction gives an overview of the workshop's concepts. It will alert you to special preparation that is needed.


The Goals section provides general outcomes for the workshop. Review the goals to connect the workshop's content and methodologies with the four strands of the Tapestry of Faith religious education programs: faith development, Unitarian Universalists identity, spiritual development, and ethical development.

Learning Objectives

The Learning Objectives section describes specific participant outcomes which workshop activities are designed to facilitate. They describe what a participant will learn, become, or be able to do as a result of the activity.


This table lists the core workshop activities, in the suggested order from the Opening through Closing, with time estimates to help you construct a 90-minute workshop. The table also shows a Faith in Action activity and at least one alternate activity—however, the 90-minute workshop does not include time for these.

Time Estimates

Many variables inform the time required for an activity. Small teams can do some activities more rapidly than one large team, but you may then need more time for all the teams to re-gather and share with the large group. Youth enthusiasm may lead you to continue an activity longer than planned. Youth disinterest may lead you to move on more quickly than you expected. Watch the time, and try to stay flexible. Note: Time estimates for activities do not include leader planning and preparation.

Spiritual Preparation

Each workshop offers a spiritual exercise for leaders that calls forth your life experiences and beliefs relevant to the virtue at hand. The Spiritual Preparation exercise is intended to help you provide the best possible learning experience for youth and the most rewarding one possible for you. Taking time in the days before the workshop to reflect on its content, and in the moments before the workshop to center yourself, will support and free you in your work with youth.

Workshop Plan

The Workshop Plan presents every core activity in detail, in the sequence shown by the Workshop-at-a-Glance table. It also includes a Faith in Action activity, Leader Reflection and Planning, Taking It Home, Alternate Activities, and Resources.

Downloading and Adapting the Curriculum

If you are reading this program online, you can move as you wish among the workshop's elements: Opening, Closing, Activity 4, Faith in Action activity, Story text, etc. Each element occupies its own web page. You can click on "Print This Page" at any time—for example, if you wish to print one page—for example, a single activity, or just the workshop's central story. However, if you click on "Download Entire Program" or "Download Workshop" you will have a user-friendly document on your computer to customize as you wish, using your own word processing program. Once you decide which activities and resources you will use, you can delete unneeded material from your document, and then format and print the materials you need.

Opening: Each Opening includes lighting the chalice with a reading from the Dhammapada, a sacred Buddhist text, to reinforce the premise of this program: We can thoughtfully decide the kind of person we wish to be.

Activities: Four to six core activities are suggested for each workshop. Each activity includes a materials list, preparation steps, and a full description to guide you through conducting the activity. Many suggest optional variations.

The sequence of activities has been carefully designed. You may certainly make any changes you like, but read the full workshop first to make sure your adjustments are logical and practical.

Also, the activities of each workshop are arranged to mix reflective and active engagement and to engage a variety of skills and learning styles. Keep this balance in mind as you adjust the workshop to meet the group's needs.

Every workshop includes a core story. Many are true narratives about individuals who have practiced virtues to live an intentionally ethical life.

Two core activities occur in all the workshops:

1. Dilemma. Youth consider hypothetical situations that call for ethical decision-making.

2. Practice. Youth reflect on and commit to choices to nurture a virtue in their day-to-day lives.

Faith in Action: Faith in Action activities suggest specific, practical ways for youth to realize and apply their faith for the betterment of the world and their communities. Faith in Action activities, like core and alternate activities, are presented in the curriculum with required supplies and preparation steps. If your group meets for longer than 90 minutes, you can easily incorporate Faith in Action activities on a regular basis. You may also substitute them for other activities, or use them outside the program, perhaps as the basis of youth group projects.

Try to include some form of Faith in Action. As the saying insists, actions do often speak louder than words, for both actor and observer.

Closing: Each workshop closes with a quotation as the chalice is extinguished.

Leader Reflection and Planning: Many religious educators find it is helpful, at the end of their workshops, to spend a few minutes reviewing what they have done and planning what they will do next. This segment of each workshop offers prompts for discussion.

Taking It Home: This section provides activities and suggestions for involving family and friends in the ideas, themes, and projects of Virtue Ethics. They reinforce key points from the workshop and offer activities, reflection questions, and resources to extend learning at home. Distribute this section as a participant handout as well as an email message to parents/caregivers, to facilitate conversation at home.

Alternate Activities: The format for alternate activities is similar to that of core activities. You can substitute these for core activities if you feel they better suit the group, or add them—possibly outside the regular workshop time. Alternate Activity 1 in Workshops 1-12, Real Life Challenges, invites youth to process ethical challenges of their own experience, whether or not these relate to the featured virtue. If you have time, you might incorporate this into your regular, core workshops.

Resources: Each workshop contains the stories, handouts, and any other resources you will need to lead the workshop activities.

Under "Story" you will find the full texts of the workshop's central story and any additional stories.

Under the heading "Handouts" you will find any material that needs to be printed and copied for all participants.

Under "Leader Resources" you will find all the additional instructions, background sheets, and other resources you will need to lead the activities—for example: role play scenarios, a diagram to help you plan an activity, or an illustration to show the group, which you may print as a hard copy or display on a computer as a PowerPoint slide.

Find Out More: Each workshop concludes with an annotated selection of resources to further explore the topics.