ERIC Number: ED336782
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: A Resource for Examining Ethical Leadership in Decision-Making.
Pruitt, Randall P.
One of the challenges of a communication instructor is how to initiate the discussion of ethics in the university classroom. The classic film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," has proved a useful tool for initiating discussion of ethical decision-making in leadership. This film presents a young and idealistic leader of boy ranger clubs who is appointed to the senate because he does not appear to be a threat to the graft of the state political machine. When he is framed for misconduct by one of the corrupt politicians, he holds a 23-hour filibuster prompting that politician to admit his guilt. The viewing of the film is preceded by a class session covering basic ethical positions such as the ethics of ends, means, the state, the marketplace of ideas, the situation, absolutism, legality, and what a person can get away with. The film can then be viewed and analyzed using instructional strategies such as: (1) giving the students a short questionnaire that deals with ethics and leadership, ethical dilemmas, and the relevancy of the movie to today's world; and (2) asking the students to generate their own list of questions about ethics and leadership. Both strategies are designed to act as a springboard for discussion. A third strategy is to assign a 5-page reaction-paper asking students to analyze the ethical position of one of the characters in the movie, and to discuss their personal positions on leadership and ethics. (PRA)
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Mr Smith Goes To Washington (Film); Speech Communication Education
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Communication Association (Chicago, IL, April 11-14, 1991).