Rethinking the Role of Ethics in Public Affairs Education
© 2002, © 2002 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC. In a rapidly changing policymaking environment, it has become increasingly important that students of public affairs be prepared to grapple with the ethical responsibilities they will face in their professional lives. It is not surprising, therefore, that many schools of public affairs have begun seeking ways to devote more attention to the teaching of ethics in their programs. Yet significant disagreement remains about how best to teach ethics in this context. In this article, we present and examine critically two prevalent approaches, ethics codes and ethical awareness. We then offer our own alternative model, ethics as collaborative judgment. In contrast with the other two approaches, collaborative judgment encourages students to take a more active role in searching for contextual solutions to public problems by engaging in a mutual process of discernment with other ethical interpreters. It is thus better able to train policy professionals who are sensitive to the particular demands of crafting policy in a complex democratic environment. We conclude the article by providing some reflections on our own efforts in developing pedagogy around this approach.
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