How does someone who is dedicated to public service responsibly gain and exercise power and influence in their career? How do they maintain their integrity while making the world a better place without themselves becoming swept up in the negative social and political forces that structurally generate pervasive inequities and injustices?
This course will help students navigate difficult professional environments that are ethically and politically complex. It focuses on three challenging areas that confront today’s public servants: (i) working within settings that present actors with multilayered conflicts of interest, (ii) balancing the difficult trade-offs that come with advancing social, economic and transitional justice, (iii) mending and rehabilitating fragile democratic institutions and practices.
Four central questions, posed to the public servant, organizes our exploration of these areas: (i) who does the person serve (and who ought they serve), (ii) who, in addition to those they serve, are they accountable to, (iii) what is the scope of their job—its obligations, permissions and prohibitions, and (iv) what are the relevant features of the system within which the person is operating?
Three core skills will be developed in examining these areas and answering these questions. (I) Students will be taught a process of analytical understanding that will help them disentangle multifaceted systems along three primary dimensions—the distribution of power, the intersection of identities, and the interplay of ethical commitments. (II) Students will be encouraged to engage in strategic thinking that emphasizes the need to balance, among other things, political, professional and ethical considerations. And (III) students will be trained in moral reasoning, which emphasizes the need to offer substantive reasons for considered moral judgments.
Open to MPP1 students only.