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Event to Discuss Good Government in North Dakota to be held in Watford City

Free and Open to the Public, Refreshments Provided


February 28, 2018 | View PDF

NDSU’s Northern Plains Ethics Institute and ThinkND are set to host a conversation about “What is Good Government in North Dakota?” on Wednesday, March 7th, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Rough Rider Center in Watford City. The Bush Foundation and the North Dakota Humanities Council have awarded ThinkND grants for this project. The discussion will feature moderators Dana Whippo, Assistant Professor in Political Science and Economics at Dickenson State University, and Cecile Wehrman, President of Journal Publishing, which prints The Journal of Crosby and the Tioga Tribune.

The moderators will give opening remarks and then engage in audience conversations about: What makes good government? What makes a good elected official? What makes a good citizen?

According to institute director Dennis Cooley, North Dakotans have reported that trust in government has eroded. “They feel that rapid changes in everyday life and government at every level have left many disconnected, if not reeling,” Cooley said. “Facts seem often to contradict one another. Legislators are not as accessible as they used to be. Concerned citizens attending government hearings often feel dismissed, as if decisions have already been made. There are concerns about out-of-state money influencing government decisions. This comes at a time when trust is needed to pursue success for each citizen and the state.”

The discussion is part of a multi-faceted initiative to engage North Dakota citizens and academic experts in a discussion about ethics and trust in government. The elements of the initiative include:

• Five gatherings of academics and citizens around the state

• A culminating event at the Heritage Center in Bismarck

• Participation in statewide conference programs and radio talk shows

• A series of Dakota Datebook programs on Prairie Public Radio

The project focuses on academic collaboration, participant engagement and preserving or creating content for re-use. Scholars will address such topics as the role of ethical behavior in the history of North Dakota government, how ethical government affects a state’s economy, the cost of mistrust and other matters related the requirements of good government.

The gatherings will focus on local thought leaders; teachers; students; people involved with township, city and county government; rural residents and the Native community.

“By providing an opportunity to engage in conversations with each other and experts from the academic community, a grass works-based framework for possibly rethinking government can be sketched out,” Cooley said.


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