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 2012–13 Tour is the second iteration of GAP's annual effort to inform university students about what whistleblowing is, the amazing accomplishments that whistleblowers have achieved, and why they must be honored and protected.
So how do we accomplish this? Our Tour brings notable whistleblowers to colleges and universities across the country. Large and small institutions, from New England to the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest … we bring truth-tellers anywhere, because future truth-tellers are everywhere.
During the 2011-12 academic year, the American Whistleblower Tour visited 13 colleges, including Auburn University, Florida International University, Mount Holyoke College, New York University, Rutgers University-Newark, Seattle University, Syracuse University, Tulane University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the University of Texas at Austin, where nearly 5,000 students heard whistleblowers speak and engaged in dynamic discussions with them.
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 last year included:
- Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower
- Frank Serpico, New York Police Department whistleblower
- Sharron Watkins, Enron whistleblower
- Susan Wood, FDA/"Plan B" Contraceptive 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 last year's stop at the 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. Other guests on the Tour often include outstanding professionals in their field (journalists, national security experts) who make visits to appropriate schools, as well. Some stops may even 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 email@example.com.
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 tremendous 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 wonderful, impressive scholars make up the Curriculum Faculty Committee.
As for the other four? All one has to do is review the student/faculty reactions to our Tour stops – reactions that are overwhelmingly positive (which keep coming!). Just some include:
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
With our Tour, GAP is actively (and measurably) making a difference with the future workforce.
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: