University Focus Group Themes & Questions

As part of our Centennial projects, Carnegie Council invites students to convene and report on their own Global Ethical Dialogues discussions at their universities. The results from these discussions can be posted on this website. The groups are invited to explore with their peers one or more of our Global Ethical Dialogues themes and related questions:

1. Corruption and Trust

-How do you define corruption? How is corruption perceived in your society?

-What is unique to your society or culture that makes combating corruption difficult?

-What societal values are important in a political system to prevent corruption? Who is accountable? Are individual actors or institutions to be blamed?


2. Environment and Growth

-How does your society define environmental stewardship? What is unique to the way your society views the environment?

-How do we overcome the collective action problem of climate change or other global environmental issues?

-How does your society weigh the value of the environment against economic growth? How does your society balance these values?

-Should emerging economies accept the same environmental limits of developed economies, despite these nations not adhering to them in the past? How do we reconcile this?

-What is one example of environmental conflict that has been dealt with successfully in your community? How could this answer be translated to a regional, or inter-country, environmental conflict?


3. Citizenship and Difference

-How do people in your society “agree to disagree?” How do they live together when they do?

-What is unique to the way your society views citizenship and belonging?

-How much common life must be shared for democratic deliberation to be possible?

-What limits to tolerance are necessary to maintain open, public discussions and common order?

-How does your society adjudicate disagreement when citizens no longer share the same premises or allegiances?


4. War and Reconciliation

-How and why do enemies in your society reconcile? How has reconciliation taken place in your society?  What is unique to your country’s experience with and view of conflict?

-How do peoples forgive and forget, or at least forgive? Does culture play a role in forgiveness? How do people in your society create new shared institutions? What are the ethical demands of peace-building in societies that have been divided by war?

-How had your community, or country, reconciled a past disagreement? Could there have been more successful ways of solving it?

-Is world peace possible?


5. Technology and Risk

-How does your society make choices about the use of technologies, such as nuclear power, that can pose severe threats to public safety and health? How does your society fairly address contested views within society on the risk to public welfare? What is unique to the way your society perceives risk?

-How is the public in your society informed about risk and involved in the political process regarding that risk? What are the obligations of scientists and technologists in respect of such risks?

-How should we think about intergenerational responsibilities in relation to technological and scientific innovations that may put our health and our environment in some degree of danger? How do we hold politicians, scientists and companies responsible for known and unforeseen risks? How do we reconcile an ethic of public prudence with a culture of innovation?

-What technology issues and security risks are prevalent in your society today? How is your society dealing with these issues?

6. Democracy and its Challengers

-Is freedom divisible? Can you separate economic, political, or individual freedoms?

-How do societies balance the desire for freedom with the need for economic growth? What is unique to the way your society governs itself?

-Is democracy the ideal system of governance? What merits do other systems have?

-Does culture play a role in the way your country governs itself? What are advantages and disadvantages of your country’s current political system? What of other legitimate political systems around the world? 

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