Governing is inherently normative work. Most public leaders face difficult moral dilemmas during their tenure—from deciding whether to grant an extremist group a permit to demonstrate, to choosing where to cut budgets in times of austerity, to determining whether and when to take a moral stance and speak out on a community conflict.
This set of materials is designed to help leaders understand and evaluate challenges with highly sensitive moral dimensions. Each of the cases focuses on a city leader forced to make a particular moral choice.
These cases can be used sequentially in a curriculum or as standalone cases for specific learning objectives.
The aims of these cases are to help students and practitioners:
Recognize the need for public leaders to grapple with moral dilemmas from a:
- Personal perspective (personal values and identity);
- Professional perspective (role obligations and opportunities); and
- Political perspective (community norms and stakeholder interests).
Use a conceptual framework to explore the tensions among these perspectives and guide moral reasoning and decision-making for public leaders.
Deepen their understanding of key concepts in:
- Moral philosophy (deontological vs. consequentialist orientations);
- Public administration (discretionary authority and role obligations, permissions, and prohibitions); and/or
- Leadership theory (adaptive leadership and leading change).
Reflect on their own reasoning and decision-making with regard to prior, current, or anticipated moral dilemmas and leadership challenges.
1. “A Difficult Lady”: Shutting Down Pollution in Kampala, Uganda
By Gaylen Moore, Christopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Kimberlyn Leary
2. Reckoning With History: Confederate Monuments in American Cities
By Gaylen Moore, Jorrit de Jong, Kimberlyn Leary, and Christopher Robichaud
3. Making a Statement: Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Sanctuary City of Oakland, CA
By Gaylen Moore, Christopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Anna Burgess
4. Reducing Harm: Overdose Prevention in Philadelphia
By Gaylen Moore, Christopher Robichaud, Kimberlyn Leary, and Jorrit de Jong