A little holiday reading… Resources on ethics and professionalism

One element of the Future London Leaders programme is networking sessions: a chance for candidates to learn from, and connect with, like-minded practitioners while exploring pressing issues across the sector. In November 2014, candidates were joined by private sector guests for the first networking event of their programme – a workshop on ethics and professionalism, hosted by FoL sponsors Pollard Thomas Edwards.

Facilitated by public-interest practitioner Stephen Hill, the session gave candidates a chance to explore ethics and professionalism as they encounter them in the field. Practitioners are challenged through the projects, programmes and policies they deliver to navigate ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, and often are troubled by the issues at stake. This session explored this tricky area in an informal, Chatham House style.

Of course, it’s not just Future London Leaders candidates who encounter ethical issues; practitioners across our network navigate complex situations and consider the impacts of their work on a regular basis. Session facilitator Hill has provided a list of books, articles, podcasts and videos that are a good starting point for anyone interested in learning (and thinking) about ethics and professionalism in the field:

  • Postmodern Ethics (Zygmunt Bauman, 1993) is a great entry to ethics reading: Bauman uses straightforward language to translate long-standing ethics to the modern day.
  • The Economics of Innocent Fraud (John Kenneth Galbraith, 2005) focuses on the growing power of the private sector, and how Galbraith sees it changing the public sector.
  • Architecture Depends (Jeremy Till, 2009) uses social theory (and some humour) to think about their field broadly and engage with stakeholders across the board.
  • The New Citizenship: Markets and Morals, delivered by Harvard Professor of Government Michael Sandel, is a 2009 Reith Lecture for the BBC. Sandel considers the expansion of markets and how we determine their moral limits.
  • Professionalism and Ethics in a Changing Economy (co-authored by Hill, along with Lorenz, Dent & Lützkendorf) provides a set of ethical principles to guide practitioners in their work, and particularly challenges professionalism organisations to lead in this area.
  • Think tank The Edge has run four debates in 2014 on ‘Future Professionalism’ (Debates 60-63), each considering how professional institutions and other representative bodies should address pressing issues facing the design and construction sector across four themes: the environment, the economy, society and future value.
  • BBC Radio 4’s A History of Ideas podcasts #11 to #15 each draw on a range of thinkers provide a fresh take on morality, from whether the law should enforce morals to how to tell right from wrong.