GAP's American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability is a dynamic collegiate Tour that seeks to educate the public − particularly our country's incoming workforce − about the phenomenon of whistleblowing. The current 2013–14 Tour is the third iteration of GAP's annual effort to inform university students about:
- what whistleblowing is – and isn't;
- the important role whistleblowers have played in protecting the public interest and promoting government and corporate accountability;
- the difficult challenges whistleblowers face when deciding to disclose wrongdoing;
- why whistleblowers must be honored and protected to maintain an effective democracy.
Our Tour brings notable whistleblowers to colleges and universities across the country to share their stories about how they discovered serious wrongdoing, decided to speak out about the problem they witnessed, and what they experienced after "blowing the whistle." Some whistleblowers share stories of suffering shocking forms of reprisal; some share stories of powerful vindication of their concerns. All share how the experience of putting ethics into practice profoundly affected them personally and professionally.
Watch a video introduction to the American Whistleblower Tour below:
During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years, more than 5,000 students, faculty and community members heard whistleblowers speak at American Whistleblower Tour stops at the following colleges: American University Washington College of Law, Auburn University (hosted twice), Florida International University (hosted three times), Franklin & Marshall College, Indiana University (Indianapolis & Bloomington campuses), James Madison University, John Jay College, Mt. Holyoke College, New York University, Portland State University, Rutgers University, Seattle University, South Texas College of Law, Syracuse University, Tulane University, University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Texas-Austin, and Whitman College.
Which Whistleblowers are Involved?
GAP secures some of the most prominent whistleblowers in American history to reach out to students and staff alike. Just some of our amazing presenters have included:
- Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower
- Frank Serpico, New York Police Department whistleblower
- Sharron Watkins, Enron whistleblower
- Susan Wood, FDA/"Plan B" Contraceptive whistleblower
- Thomas Drake, National Security Agency whistleblower
For the full dossier of participating whistleblowers (which is always growing!) click here.
What's Involved with a Tour Stop?
We work with each school to design the best possible experience for students. While Tour events vary by campus, the focal point of each stop typically includes a 60-90 minute interactive, moderated presentation featuring prominent whistleblowers detailing their experiences (for a good example of this, click here to watch the Tour stop at University of Nebraska-Lincoln).
Additional coordinated activities at each school may include classroom presentations by whistleblowers, which allows for more personal interaction with students and faculty. Outstanding professionals who work closely with whistleblowers in their field (journalists, national security experts) may also participate as discussants, adding a unique perspective to the program. Some stops include the showing of whistleblower-themed films.
The possibilities for making a Tour stop a dynamic, much-talked-about event on your campus are endless. To start exploring them, read our Whistleblower Tour Guide, or contact Alison Glick, Education Coordinator, at 202.457.0034, ext. 111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tour Goals & Curriculum Project
Why is GAP doing this, and what do we hope to accomplish? We have five goals:
- Raise awareness about the vital role whistleblowing has in our democracy
- Prepare youth for ethical decision-making
- Counter negative connotations associated with whistleblowing
- Connect future prospective whistleblowers to available resources
- Encourage academic studies of whistleblowing
These goals are ambitious, but we are achieving them. The last one listed is a bit different than the rest. We're actively achieving Goal #5 through our Curriculum Project – another important endeavor which brings together leading scholars on the issue of whistleblowing from a diversity of fields to create multi-disciplinary teaching materials that can be adapted to undergraduate and graduate courses. These impressive scholars make up the Curriculum Faculty Committee.
As for the other four goals? All one has to do is review the student/faculty reactions to our Tour stops – reactions that are overwhelmingly positive (which keep coming!). A sampling:
I wish I could express in words how transformative these discussions have been. I’ve been able to see some of my quietest classmates get angry and speak up about an issue they believe in. I don’t know that these discussions would have happened without your visit.
– Univ. of Texas, Austin student
I am a seasoned and skeptical lawyer who has plenty of experience in dealing with tough situations. But we were not prepared for the powerful impact of those personal stories. I am sure I am not the only one who left the scene feeling exhausted, enlightened, elevated, and in the end, inspired to have the courage to do more.
– Professor, Seattle Univ.
There is more for me to think about since I will become a public accountant after graduation.
– University of Nebraska–Lincoln student
Initially I thought people were turning minute issues into finger pointing of who was wrong and right. Now I know the people who choose to blow the whistle are true public servants who made decisions to protect the public’s interest.
– Rutgers University student
Whistleblowing is a difficult undertaking. But it is essential for accountability, and democracy, at all levels. Whistleblowers routinely risk their own professional lives to save the actual lives of others. At GAP, we believe that whistleblowers are necessary, need protections, and should be honored for their courage. That's what the American Whistleblower Tour is all about.
The American Whistleblower Tour teamed up with Participant Media's Take Part TV to create video coverage of the tour. Check out Take Part's coverage of the Whitman College stop here: