Karen Lancaster, finance director for the city of Ann Arbor, discusses the annual budgeting process for the city with us in what you could call a ‘Budget 101’. Walking through the stages of the budget process and different city funds, Karen suggests several ways citizens can be more informed and influential on their local budgets, such as coming to City Council meetings early on in the process, tracking funding allocations online or signing up for email updates.

Per-Erik Milam talks about his compelling work on the ethics of forgiveness, and in particular, his stimulating ideas about the practices of self-forgiveness. He also suggests how we can distinguish forgiveness from its kin, e.g., apologizing, excusing and pardoning. Most thrillingly, he invites us to think about the future of forgiveness, if we imagine that we do not have free will, and our actions are not our own.

It was rather serendipitous the way A2Ethics connected with journalist and lawyer Stephanie Hepburn. In New York for a few days, we decided to go on a pilgrimage to one of the most famous pillars of ethicsworld--the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Fortunately for us, Stephanie was the featured speaker, invited to talk about her latest book, Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight.

Our conversation with Don Welch, PhD, President and CEO of Michigan's member-owned Merit Network begins with a lively discussion on a very pressing concern: how to ethically train students and workforce personnel to protect and defend institutional networks against cyberattacks and security breaches. As an early innovator in computer networking services for researchers and educators, Merit is uniquely positioned in this field. 

Dr. Andrew Barnosky, Director of the Adult Clinical Ethics Consultation Service and Chair of the Adult Ethics Committee at the University of Michigan Health System conducts a valuable clinic for us--on the vital role and reasons for the increasing use of ethics consultations in patient care. 

One traditional way to tell a team competition story is to be the publicly detached sport journalist, who provides the written reality show to other fans, offering them an inside tale of locker room antics. No matter the competition, the story line is the same. It basically follows the four tasks required of a team. Sooner or later, all teams have to: "form, storm, norm and perform."

With the 2012 national election now over, we can expect a steep drop in some kinds of political participation in our democracy--from campaign volunteering to learning about candidates and issues through the multitudinous media channels now available to encourage participation. These days, the most talked about channels of political and civic participation are social media. 

Americans seem to believe that if we assign more social responsibilities to our schools, and call on our teachers to take on even more roles, that somehow the nation will be prepared and able to withstand any and all tests. We have big ideas about education and its uses. Think about it. Since our beginnings, we have regarded schools as laboratories for citizenship. We have engraved onto school missions stringent requirements to build moral character and to pass on ethical values.

Given the sorry state of campaign ethics as we end the 2012 election season, we could write this question off as just more political spin, this time on behalf of the political spinners. 

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