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Thought Leader: David Shinn

David Shinn is an adjunct professor of international affairs at The George Washington University and former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso.

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David Shinn on


  • WHAT’S DISTINCT distinct

    There are some qualities of the age we live in that uniquely impact morality. Increased "connectedness" or globalization is one of them. It is exemplified by the instantaneous nature of news and communication that most people on this planet can now access.

  • CHALLENGES challenges

    The greatest ethical challenge facing the planet in the long term is the need for individuals, organizations, and states to protect the global environment. A growing population, at least until 2075 barring some catastrophic event, and diminishing resources is a formula for a very bad outcome that will impact everyone on this planet.

  • GLOBAL ETHICS ethics

    The persistence of stronger ties to ethnic groups than larger national, not to mention global, entities runs counter to "global consciousness." On the other hand, growing awareness of and desire to mitigate global threats such as climate change and nuclear proliferation suggest there is a trend toward "global consciousness."

  • PEACE peace

    At any given time, I believe there will always be armed conflict in one or more location. On the other hand, some conflicts can be avoided or reduced in scope. This is probably the best that can be hoped for and it is worth the effort.

  • LEADERSHIP leadership

    To me moral leadership means a leader who follows a recognized program of moral or religious principles. I am somewhat troubled, however, by the term moral leadership. Too often it is used to support a particular political, economic, religious, or social agenda. When this happens, it is often intolerant of other points of view and can actually be harmful to the wider society.

  • FUTURE future

    Every individual, organization and state needs to commit to making the planet a better place to live or, at a minimum, to do no harm to others: identify realistic ways to reduce political marginalization, economic inequality, religious intolerance and discrimination while enhancing global economic development and grassroots political participation.