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Cornell College Politics 225

Politics 225: Ethics and Public Policy
Robert Sutherland
What's 225 About?
Sheila Boyce '85 takes us sailing on Biscayne Bay

"Enoughhhhhh … arghhhh … here I am looking up some guy named Rico in a lawyer's manual while two blocks away topless babes are sunning themselves on the beach!"

Some such struggle in one form or another went on in every student who has gone with me to study public corruption in south Florida for the past two years. The course is "Politics 225: Ethics and Public Policy." The struggle is important because it parallels a struggle within public figures facing a choice between public service and one of the many forms of public corruption.

Choosing to study instead of going to the beach, like choosing public service rather than its corruption, involves deliberation and will, an exercise in self-restraint for the sake of a higher, more enduring purpose. The more exercise the easier the choice until one chooses self-restraint and public service almost as a matter of habit. No purpose than this is more important to me throughout 35 years of teaching, and I've never taught it better than in South Beach. Instruction there is reinforced by absorption. Lessons penetrate both head and heart. The best teachers are the many people we meet. Prosecutors, TV reporters and investigative journalists, lawyers, business leaders, lobbyists, public interest advocates, elected officials, and public ethics bureaucrats have all welcomed us and devoted hours of their time to helping us understand how and why so many public officials abuse their positions in south Florida.

Widely respected Miami-Dade-area lobbyist Dusty Melton (navy shirt) spent more than five hours with Robert Sutherland (white shirt) and students in Florida.


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