The Fourth Annual Ethics Bowl, hosted by the College of Arts & Letters, was held June 2 in the Babbio Center. Twenty teams from twelve different high schools participated, including many teams that have competed in previous Ethics Bowls.
Dean Lisa Dolling and Professor Michael Steinmann opened the event, addressing the students and their teachers and coaches. An excellent public debate experience for the students, the participants from high schools across New Jersey and New York were excited to begin the competition.
Thirteen Stevens faculty members served as judges for the Ethics Bowl. The students presented themselves as serious, critical debaters and impressed the judges with their quick thinking and debate skills. The debates took place in two rounds. The four cases discussed included a classic case from the medical field as well as cases that concern the societal impact of technology.
Questions that were raised included the following:
Nuclear Energy: The recent events in Japan where nuclear plants at Fukushima were facing serious problems after an earthquake, and subsequently a large tsunami hit the coast, raise many questions about the safe use of nuclear energy… Should we promote the use of a technology that in the worst possible scenario would become uncontrollable?
Full Body Scans at Airports: Are authorities justified intruding into the private sphere of individuals? Do they even have a duty to do so? Or is this only “security theater” that does little to deter potential terrorists, and merely puts additional burdens on innocent travelers? Should we therefore reject this additional measure of security control?
WikiLeaks and the Use of Classified Information: WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, have become famous for “leaking” information that has been gathered secretly, to the public… How should governments react?
Disclosure by Medical Doctors: While working in an emergency room a terminally ill patient is brought in by his family. The doctors inform the family members that the patient is beyond help and will live only for a couple of days. The family, however, begs the doctor not to say anything to the patient. They claim that the patient has not been informed in the past and might react in a very strong way. The patient certainly seems distressed, but has clear consciousness. What should the doctors tell him if he asks, “Am I going to die?”
The students thoroughly enjoyed their participation in the Ethics Bowl, and their overall experience on campus. Their teachers report that participating at the Ethics Bowl is an invaluable educational experience for the students.
Several teachers and coaches expressed their gratitude to Stevens for organizing the annual Ethics Bowl. One teacher said of the event:
“It focused our students' attention toward contemporary scientific concerns and the potential for ethically substantive solutions. Our high school has highly competitive sports programs, and I am happy that we can also show strongly in academic competitions such as yours.”
After the spirited, lively and educated rounds of debate, the winners of the 2011 Ethics Bowl emerged. This year’s winners are: Clarkstown High School (Rockland County, NY), Piscataway High School Team 1 (Piscataway, NJ) and Moorestown Friends School Team 1 (Moorestown, NJ).
At the conclusion of the event, Dean Dolling stated: “This was by far the most successful Ethics Bowl we've had to date.” Congratulations to all the participants!