David Morse offers glimpse into his Values & Ethics course in Washington Post

August 16, 2019

In David Morse’s “Values & Ethics: Lying & Public Policy” course he assigns students to develop a lie with a political agenda. In a perspective for The Washington Post titled “I teach my college students to lie. Honestly. Whoppers. It’s good for them.” published July 30, 2019, he explains the assignment and the reasoning behind it.

After studying real-world examples of such lies, students are tasked with “proposing a lie with a political agenda that could be loosed to great effect,” he writes. As a class, one of these lies is then used in a simulation. Students each take on a persona of a politician, journalist, or subject matter expert, then “advance the lie or defend the truth.”  

Morse explains that the exercise is designed to help “students acquire a more sophisticated sense of political lying than they could gain through reading moralizing essays,” he explains. He concludes that through the experience, students develop an understanding of why many Americans are "attracted" to such lies. 

Read the full column on The Washington Post. To learn more about the course, view the Winter 2019 syllabus.

David Morse is a lecturer at the Ford School, where he teaches expository writing and an undergraduate course on utopianism. Before completing a master's degree in fiction writing from the University of Michigan, he edited for an educational nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, and taught English as a second language in Iwakuni, Japan.