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

Activity 2: Who Is Responsible?

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Leader Resource 1, Who Does It?

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the Leader Resource. If you wish to add items to the list, insert them where they belong in the progression of responsibility the list offers. Print the Leader Resource.
  • Prepare two sheets of newsprint. Write “Me” on one and “Someone Else” on the other. Post at opposite ends of the room, leaving open floor space in between.

Description of Activity

Participants acknowledge the responsibilities they already carry and observe the responsibilities of their peers.

Indicate the two newsprint sheets you have posted. Tell the youth you will read items and ask youth to move to the “Me” sheet if they have responsibility for the activity all the time, stand in the middle if they have responsibility sometimes, and move to the “Someone Else” sheet if they never have responsibility for it.

Read the first item. Once the youth choose sides, allow some discussion. Continue until you have read all the items on the list.

Process with these questions:

  • Your level of responsibility has probably increased with age. What responsibilities did you have when you were six? Ten?
  • When you are given a new responsibility, did someone show you how to carry out your responsibility?
  • What happens when you do not do the acts you are responsible for?
  • What responsibilities do you anticipate gaining over the next few years?
  • Have you even been given a responsibility you did not feel ready for?

Share, in these words or your own:

Could we all agree that we each are responsible, to a great extent, for our own behavior? Maybe so, yet many people have a difficult time accepting responsibility when their behavior has negative consequences. Some people have a harder time than others. Then, if you accept responsibility for yourself, your friends, and your family, you will spend more of your “responsibility coinage.” Then, if you widen your circle to include groups you belong to, like your neighborhood and city, community organizations, your congregation, that is another layer of responsibility, known as social responsibility.

As you mature, it becomes appropriate for you to accept more responsibility. No one would ask a six-year-old to make decisions about how to decrease their carbon footprint. However, a child can accept responsibility for not littering. As good citizens, we are asked to assume some responsibility in many areas, including the well-being of the planet. At each of these stages, you need to decided how much coinage to spend and where to spend it.


Who has an example of a decisions about how to spend “responsibility coinage? When could choices related to responsibility be difficult or stressful for you?