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Summer Reading Program and Ethics Writing Sample Print E-mail


The Citadel Freshman Summer Reading Program
& Ethics Writing Sample
Ethics in Action: Since 1842

To be completed by ALL Class of 2018 students by August 1st

Note: To access the assignment and submit your essay, log in to your CitLearn account and select the course listed as Assessment - Ethics Writing Sample. Click here for CitLearn login instructions.



The Citadel’s Freshman Summer Reading program is comprised of two distinct parts:


Part I. Read the play A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin.
Part II. Submit an ethics writing sample based on A Few Good Men.

Text: Sorkin, Aaron. (2012). A Few Good Men. New York: Samuel French, Inc.


To purchase a copy of A Few Good Men, follow this link to the Citadel Bookstore. You may also call the Bookstore at 843-953-5110. Limited copies may be available from Amazon.com or other online retailers.


Part I: Read A Few Good Men

The play A Few Good Men presents the story of two Marines stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who find themselves facing a court martial related to the death of a fellow Marine. “The Navy lawyer, a callow young  man more interested in softball games than the case, expects a plea bargain and a cover up of what really happened. Prodded by a female member of his defense team, the lawyer eventually makes a valiant effort to defend his clients and, in doing so, puts the military mentality and the Marine code of honor on trial” (Samuel French, Inc., 2012).

As you read A Few Good Men, we encourage you to make notes in the margins of your book or in a spiral notebook and to pay careful attention to the many ethical issues present in the play. When considering potential ethical issues, think not only about the actions of the two men on trial, but also those of the Marine officers on base and the prosecuting and defense attorneys. Reflect on which characters demonstrate ethical or unethical decision-making and the consequences of their decisions. Also consider how characters might justify the decisions they make. To help you reflect on the play, please answer the questions in the Reading Journal and bring it with you to school in the fall. The answers do not need to be submitted.

Reflecting on the characters in A Few Good Men and the consequences of making both ethical and unethical decisions in the line of duty will help you grow as a principled leader.


Part II: Ethics Writing Sample

Step One: Write a two-page, double-spaced essay that addresses the following prompt about A Few Good Men:


Identify and explain two or three ethical issues present in the play and discuss how the various characters relate to the issue. Be sure to explain whose actions are ethical and whose are unethical, as well as why you think characters choose to act as they do. In discussing the issues, consider how they might be viewed from different perspectives. For each of the ethical issues you discuss, imagine you are a friend or mentor to one or more of the characters involved and explain what course of action you would recommend. (This could be before or after the ethical issue arose.)


Step Two: Submit your essay, and save it on a flash drive or other portable storage device. Please bring your book, essay, and Reading Journal with you when you report to school. You will refer to the book and to your notes as you study ethics at The Citadel. Moreover, in case there are errors in your submission, you will want to have a copy of your essay.


File formatting requirements:

  • Create a header like this:
    First Middle Last
    CWID #
  • Type your essay using 12-point Times New Roman font
  • Set 1” margins and double space everything
  • Save your essay in either Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format ONLY

For more information about how to submit your esssay, as well as to access the assignment, please log in to your CitLearn account and select the course listed as "Assessment - Ethics Writing Sample."