Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Increasing incidents of incivilities and in some cases outright violence are well documented in K-12 through undergraduate educational setting as well as in the workplace across all sectors, yet the academic and professional literature that reflects and informs public affairs education is striking in its omission of how incivilities necessarily impact our teaching and program administration. In this paper, the authors trace the growing problem of student incivilities, identify contributing factors linked to the entitlement society, and make the case for a more proactive and comprehensive response. They present suggestions for MPA faculty and administrators to use within and outside the classroom to ensure that a safe and constructive learning environment is maintained for students and faculty. The authors work from two underlying assumptions: (1) that professional public affairs programs have a special obligation to graduate individuals who not only have substantive expertise but also meet the highest standards of civility, and (2) that we cannot and should not wait for minor incivilities to escalate to explicit threats of or acts of violence within any individual program or graduate public affairs programs generally. They present a call to action and warn of the potential for long term negative consequences if we ignore the signs of this impending storm. They introduce the concept of "civility efficiency" and challenge programs to take the lead in promoting this concept.


Paper prepared for the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration Annual Conference, Charleston, SC, October 16-18, 2008



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