The Center for Ethics in Public Life was established by the Missouri General Assembly in 2006 through a legislative appropriation to the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The sponsor of the legislation, former Senator Chuck Gross, stated that the Legislature’s intention was to promote ethical decision-making and personal integrity in the conduct of elected and appointed officials. Funding was provided to support practical training of officeholders and public administrators in ethical principles of government service, and to encourage scholarly research in the field of public service ethics.
In October 2011 the Center welcomed its first permanent Director, Dr. Wally Siewert. Dr. Siewert holds a Ph.D. in political philosophy and ethics from the University of California Santa Barbara. He previously served as the Program Director for the Coalition for Consumer Justice of Rhode Island.
“All too often ethics in public life is a subject only discussed when a massive ethical failure results in the kind of political bloodbath the media thrives on. It takes a broader perspective to recognize that it is not just one person, or one party, or one administration that loses on such occasions. The public’s faith in government is the lifeblood of a democracy, and that faith is drained away with every headline splashing political ethics scandal. I see the mission of The Center for Ethics in Public Life to provide a form of ‘preventative care’ aimed at engendering a healthier and more productive political process by educating its participants, holding them ethically accountable, and advocating for the best ethical political practices.”
The Center for Ethics in Public Life is fulfilling its mission through a variety of programs including conferences and workshops for current political practitioners, research on best practices and ideal political processes, classroom engagement with future political leaders, collaboration with other governmental organizations and university programs and by providing a website clearinghouse for current information on the state of public ethics in Missouri. Take a look around the rest of the website, especially our conference pages and our research pages to learn more about what we do.
The Center for Ethics in Public Life welcomes input, questions, and collaboration from other universities, public agencies and officials, non-profit organizations and the general public.