Ethics education in public affairs programs: What do faculty around the globe have to say?

Funding Sponsor

American University in Cairo

Author's Department

Public Policy & Administration Department

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Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Journal of Public Affairs Education

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Despite the near global consensus on the importance of ethics education in public affairs programs, a lot of challenges are faced in implementation. The aim of the current research paper is to identify the perception of faculty in public affairs programs about why, what and how they teach ethics in their programs, the hurdles they meet, and their suggestions for improvement. An online survey targeting a purposive sample of faculty in different continents is implemented, and successfully manages to receive responses from 73 faculties in 23 different countries, divided amongst Africa, North America, Asia and Europe. Amongst the findings of the research are that the most important goals of ethics education are perceived to be creating awareness about ethical issues and helping students develop their moral reasoning and analytical abilities. Some faculty prefer to have a stand-alone course dedicated to ethics education, others integrate it in different courses, and the majority prefer the option of having both modalities. Case studies and discussions are much preferred methods of teaching ethics compared to lectures and field visits. Some of the challenges related to offering a separate course on ethics include: that there are already too many course requirements and a lack of availability of qualified instructors. Some context-specific challenges to teaching ethics include perceived sensitivity of the topic, occasional lack of students’ interest and a perceived divide between theory and reality. To improve on teaching ethics, amongst the main recommendations are: linking theory to practice, using more case studies and utilizing teaching methods geared more to open discussions and debates.

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