Educating for Moral Competence (for Philip Selznick)


Kenneth Winston, December 2012

The curricula of schools of public policy and management cover three broad areas: policy analysis, strategic management, and politics. The mission is not only to educate professionals in these areas but to enable them to integrate the three in depth. What kind of professional can do this, and are there generic skills and capacities that this person must possess? This essay explores a core dimension of professional skill that Winston refers to as moral competence – the set of attributes and dispositions that make for good governance. On the assumption that the needed skills and the nature of the polity are inextricably linked, the central question is: What constitutes moral competence for a practitioner of democratic governance? Winston sketches six generic attributes that he regards as constituent components of the good practitioner, and indicates how the case method of teaching helps to cultivate these virtues.

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