Ethical Issues in Public Service
Professionals working in Public Service are charged with serving the interests and protecting the rights of the
community. The issues confronting public service professionals are frequently complex, involving conflicting
values and strongly held preferences, incomplete and possibly unreliable information, and consequences that
no one can foresee. Effectively serving the common good, then, requires that public officials exercise sound
moral judgment in performing their duties – that their actions be defensible ethically as well as legally.
This highly interactive, inter-professional course is designed to give students an overview of ethical challenges
in public service, including recognizing and responding to contemporary conflicts in the public service
environment. The course is designed to enhance students’ ability to think ethically about the means and ends
of public service. Students will become familiar with the application of ethics principles to today’s ethics
challenges. Through the discussion of case studies, students will build practical ethical reasoning skills and
strategies for dealing with frequently encountered issues, as well as approaches for anticipating and
decreasing the presence of ethics conflicts. We will examine normative concepts and principles that typically
enter into moral reasoning and use these tools in analyzing actual cases.