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Comments From Workshop Participants

“Really gave me a lot to think about”


“Fun and informative” “Great Presentation!”


“I could listen to this presentation over and over”


“Presenter has a vast amount of knowledge; Audience participation was great tactic; speaker held our attention”


“Well prepared; clear and readable visuals; timely information geared toward audience, good audience/presenter interaction; Grade: A”


“Very thought provoking!!”

Dr. Wally Siewert, Director of the Center for Ethics in Public Life, is available on a limited basis to direct workshops on Ethics in the Public Sphere. From local governance to state and federal issues Dr. Siewert has spoken on, and organized conferences around, issues and subjects across the spectrum of normative (moral/ethical) questions in the public sphere. Dr. Siewert’s approach involves not just a lecture on compliance with ethics laws. Although these are very important, complying with ethics laws does not make one an ideally ethical public servant, it merely means that one is not violating the law, that one is at some basement level minimally ethically adequate. Much more interesting are the ethical dimensions of political and public administrative decision-making that divide the minimally ethically adequate from the ideal statesman.

Encapsulated in a one to three hour curriculum entitled “Political Ethics and Public Values,” this line of inquiry includes addressing questions such as:

    • How does one appropriately reconcile one’s private interests with one’s public role?
    • When should one stand on principle and when should one compromise?
    • What is the perfect meeting point of what is politically possible and what is ideally desirable?
    • How does one weigh possible incommensurate public values off against each other?
    • What values can we all agree on, whether we are: left, right, center, Democrat, Republican, Independent?
    • On the other hand, what are the primary sources of conflict between these camps, and what kinds of ethical considerations govern negotiation and public reason-giving in these arenas?

“Political Ethics and Public Values” workshops are not simply a lecture. Instead, they are an interactive discussion of the nature of ethical obligations in public service and an exploration of the value frameworks involved. The goal will be to provide participants the opportunity to explore the myriad kinds of potentially conflicting values involved in the public sphere in a systematic way, hopefully providing new tools with which to think about and address them when they conflict. The audience will be asked to take part in the discussion via I-Clicker instant digital audience polling technology (provided) and engage in analysis of thought experiments, cases, dilemmas, and exercises illustrating the values conflicts that have been discussed. The purpose is to tap the expertise in the audience and provide an open and neutral forum, as well as some new conceptual tools to think about public values conflicts in a fresh, and hopefully useful, way.