News: July 2013

Again this year, the International Anti-Corruption Academy convened a Summer Academy in Vienna, Austria at the beginning of July. The Summer Academy brought together approx. 70 experienced anti-corruption professionals from more than 50 different countries and from across sectors. For ten days, Summer Academy participants explored holistic approaches to fighting corruption. With the support of 13 renowned lecturers from around the world, they linked theoretical concepts and practical action.

In the context of the Summer Academy, Michael Pedersen offered perspectives on the role of education in fighting corruption. Among other things, Michael highlighted the importance of focusing educational efforts on motivating ethically right behavior rather than raising awareness about what is ethically right and wrong only. He also emphasized the potential of educational sport in fighting corruption.

At the beginning of his engagement, Michael Pedersen was alarmed by the result of a quick inquiry that he initiated among the participants. When asked, literally all Summer Academy participants indicated that they know someone who has cheated at exams. The result caused Michael to offer the perspective that educational systems across the world are not really fit for purpose. Rather than simply raising awareness about what is ethically right and wrong, he suggested that educational efforts ought to be focused much more on teaching people how to deal with cases of ethical wrongdoing that they encounter in all walks of life and on recognizing, motivating and incentivizing ethically right behaviors.

The subsequent dialogue with Summer Academy participants included interventions by judges, prosecutors and private sector compliance officers from all over the world. They felt an urge to respond to Michael Pedersen expressing the strong view that many cultures, norms and traditions still value winning much more than the level of sportsmanship and fair play shown in getting to the podium – in business, government, civil society and sport. In that context, Michael highlighted that people willing to cheat at exams are on a slippery slope to eventually maybe even accepting bribes as a means of achieving personal and professional goals. Several participants, including people with experience as board members of sport governing bodies and/or as referees in professional sport, expressed similar views.

Michael Pedersen also offered perspectives on the potential of educational sport in fighting corruption. He particularly emphasized the power of street football like approaches that utilize engagement in sport as a vehicle for keeping children away from criminal activities on the street and for teaching them further qualities of character, ethical values and leadership skills. Several participants expressed that they were unaware of such approaches and that they found them inspiring and encouraging in the much-needed work to develop new and more effective ways of fighting corruption.