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Teaching ethics and values in public administration programs : innovations, strategies, and issues

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               Bowman and Menzel present a collection of revised papers from the 1995 National Symposium on Ethics and Values in the Public Administration Academy that investigate ethics-education curricula for public administration programs and courses.  This volume presents a range of case studies, classroom experiments, issues, survey findings, and theoretical approaches about how to incorporate ethics into courses or programs in public service education.   The strength of this volume lies in its ability to enrich on-campus ethical instruction, however, the wide breath of ideas presented also make it a suitable text for in-service training for public, private, and non-profit organizational members.


               The introduction begins by exploring the substantial growth of interest and commitment in ethics within graduate educational programs of public affairs/administration in the United States.  Bowman and Menzel find that the number of programs adopting an ethics course has substantially increased from 1% in 1970 to nearly 60% in 1995, while 40% of programs expressed teaching ethics across the curriculum.  In addition, Bowman and Menzel empirically investigate what various public affairs/administration programs believe are the most important goals (i.e., 1. foster ethical conduct in the public sector; 2. develop an awareness of ethical issues and problems within the field; 3. cultivate an attitude of moral obligation and personal responsibility in pursuing a career in the public service), conceptual approaches (i.e., 1. moral reasoning; 2. democratic thought; 3. citizenship), instructional methods/technologies (i.e., 1. small-group discussion; 2. case studies; 3. decision-making scenarios), and consequences (e.g., students felt ethics provided a valuable, non-threatening, helpful experience in their education) for ethics education.  Bowman and Menzel also present a number of suggestions for improving ethics instruction in public administration, most notably in the areas of faculty development and recruitment.  Despite these suggestions for improvement, the empirical evidence displayed in this introductory chapter showed a considerable growing interest in ethics education in public administration programs, a growing interest that warrants new innovations, strategies, and issues in ethics instruction addressed in the remaining chapters of this volume. 


               The remainder of the volume is broken up into four different parts: 1) program innovations; 2) teaching strategies inside the academy; 3) teaching strategies outside the academy; and 4) ethical issues: programs, students, faculty. The first section presents various papers on program innovations from across the country.  Chapters convey various lessons that were learned when schools of public affairs institutionalized ethics within their public administration program.  Readers of this section will learn about the many rewards and challenges of redesigning a more ethically focused public administration program, including: coordinating faculty, philanthropists, and students; changing the culture of programs; motivating attitudes of students; and instituting new teaching strategies.


               Chapters in section two investigate the pedagogical methods of on-campus teaching of public administration ethics.  These sections introduce how to teach students what it means to be a more ethical civil servant. Chapters focus on: introducing ideas of professional citizenship; teaching methods to encourage moral sensitivity and tolerance of imperfection; how to use artifacts and codes to enhance ethical pedagogy; and major themes and theories of teaching ethics in the private and public sectors.  Readers of this section will learn various teaching methods and theories that will enhance the pedagogy of ethics in public administration courses. 


               Part three presents three different examples of ethic training programs that are outside the academy.  This section is particularly valuable for consultants and practitioners who wish to learn how to conduct ethical training programs in various types of political and public organizations.  The various lessons learned from these training initiatives, along with some examples of the reluctance and challenges that can be experienced within public organizations, are valuable to those who wish to enact similar programs outside the academy. Despite the potential reluctance and challenges involved with instituting programs on ethics in public organizations, these examples also show evidence of an inherent interest for ethical thinking among civil servants, and also show some positive real-world impact that these initiatives can have.    


               Lastly, part four addresses various professional roles enacted by faculty of public administration, such as program management, faculty/student relations, research, and consulting.  Regarding program management, this section acknowledges some of the problems that can occur when conflict  arises between classroom/program ethical imperatives and the imperatives enforced by a governing body (NSPAA accreditation process), while also proposing recommendations on how to mediate this conflict.  This section also explores the equivocal ethical line between student-faculty relations (both as teachers and advisors), and presents a criteria for judging ethical behavior within these relationships (i.e., through competence and fairness).  Similarly, this section also explores the important ethical implications involved with public administration research and consulting roles, and suggests means for improving ethical behavior.


                    This volume provides a useful guide for a wide variety of audiences who wish to explore issues and teaching methods involved with improving ethical instruction in public administration courses, programs, and organizations.  With an increasing number of public administration programs becoming more interested and required to increase their focus on ethics, this conglomeration of papers on the innovations, strategies, and issues involved with teaching ethics found in this volume will provide a useful guide for public administration programs and faculty moving toward these goals.      

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