Please Wait a Moment

Ethical Dilemmas in Dance Education

A black male dancer on a staircase wearing tan arches backwards to make eye contact with a white female dancer wearing white

Professor: Dr. Doug Risner

Tuition: $520 member / $595 non-member

12 Weeks; 3 NDEO-Endorsed PDCs

In this course, we explore ethical dimensions of dance education based upon the pedagogical premise that each of us will teach as we were taught unless we seriously scrutinize our pedagogical choices, teaching approaches, and ethical decision-making. Participants are encouraged to investigate carefully their teaching practices and leadership potential by stepping back and objectively observing, considering, and assessing individual values and assumptions in ethical decision-making. There is always a tendency when facing a problem to look for the correct answer, however, as with all ethical dilemmas, the difficulty comes not in choosing right over wrong, but in deciding between conflicting choices that are neither all right nor all wrong. Ethical dilemmas in education are ones in which teachers must take action that will benefit one party at some expense or inconvenience to another. Resolving ethical dilemmas presses dance educators to prioritize among the conflicting wants, needs, and interests of students, parents, colleagues, and the larger culture. In other words, making one right choice in an ethical dilemma usually means that an individual cannot make another choice, which is equally right and equally important. Ethical decisions are difficult because no single option clearly dominates the alternatives. Given the social nature of ethical decision-making, the pedagogical approach to this course promotes and supports a collaborative learning community. With clear instructions and a set goal, partners and small groups explore collaboratively, experiment within themselves and work with open communication. 


Book required: Ethical Dilemmas in Dance Education by Doug Risner and Karen Schupp; Can be ordered from McFarland Books at

Questions about this Course?  Email

Past Student Testimonials

"As I expected, this course was VERY thought provoking. I was continually challenged throughout the course."

"The peer interaction was very beneficial for me. Part of this was being paired up with different people each time, because it really diversified our conversations. The feedback from the professor was always very quick and thorough, which was much appreciated."

"I feel more confident as an educator and in my ability to make ethical decisions fairly and in an equitable manner and implement those decisions."

"I liked how this course was built around Kidder's frameworks and the book Ethical Dilemmas in Dance
Education, but that it provided us all room to find our own meanings in the work. It wasn't "you have to follow these rules, you must adhere to this theory." Morals/ethics are ambiguous by default and the freedom we had to find our understanding and level of comfort with the material was greatly appreciated."

"Working with peers was most impactful for me. I enjoyed talking with colleagues, sharing our ideas and struggles. I also appreciated that the professor arranged the groups so that we worked with new people throughout the course. I would enthusiastically recommend this course to colleagues."

Professor Bio


Dr. Doug Risner is Professor of Dance, Distinguished Faculty Fellow at Wayne State University where he teaches courses in dance history, pedagogy, research design and methodology, dance professions, artistic praxis, and principles of teaching artistry. His research focuses on social issues and gender in dance, curriculum design and pedagogy, dance in higher education, and online learning. He is widely published throughout the U.S. and internationally in Research in Dance Education, International Journal of Education & the Arts, Journal of Dance Education, Arts Education Policy Review, Teaching Artist Journal, and Dance: Current Selected Research. His books include Stigma & Perseverance in the Lives of Boys Who Dance (2009), Hybrid Lives of Teaching Artists in Dance and Theatre Arts: A Critical Reader (2014), Gender, Sexuality and Identity: Critical Issues in Dance Education (2015), Dance and Gender: An Evidenced-Based Approach (2017), Ethical Dilemmas in Dance Education: Case Studies on Humanizing Dance Pedagogy (2020). His forthcoming book, Masculinity, Intersectionality and Identity: Why Boys (Don’t) Dance (2021). His service and teaching have been honored with awards from his alma mater, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award and Faculty Mentoring Award from Wayne State University, and NDEO Visionary Award and NDEO Outstanding Dance Education Researcher Award. Risner is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus (2004-2012) of Journal of Dance Education, and Associate Editor, Research in Dance Education. Risner is a senior program consultant for NDEO’s Online Professional Development Institute. Doug teaches OPDI-102: Dance History 1800 to Present, OPDI-105: Introduction to Dance Education Research, OPDI-113: Foundations of Dance Pedagogy, and OPDI-121: Ethical Dilemmas in Dance Education.

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