High school students to debate driverless cars and gentrification in PSU-sponsored Ethics Bowl
Author: Cristina Rojas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Posted: February 7, 2018

Hot-button issues will take center stage this Saturday as dozens of high school students from the Portland metro area spend a day arguing about what's right and wrong.

The Portland State University's Philosophy Department is hosting the annual Oregon High School Ethics Bowl.

Alex Sager, an associate professor of philosophy and department chair, said the competition promotes critical thinking skills about wide-ranging ethical dilemmas and encourages students to listen to the opposing team's arguments and incorporate them into their own.

"It teaches high school students how to engage in civil discourse and talk about things they may feel strongly about, but in a way that is respectful to other people," Sager said.

The issues, many drawn from real-world scenarios, range from driverless cars to school choice and gentrification. In the fall, teams—made up of about three to five students—got a set of the case studies to begin preparing, but won't know which question they’ll be asked to answer until the bowl.

"I often tell students, 'If you're 100 percent confident what you think about these issues, you haven't really thought about it enough or talked to someone who thinks differently,'" Sager said.

This year, teams from Clackamas High School, Columbia River High School, Hillsboro High School, Jesuit High School, Lincoln High School, Oregon City High School, Oregon Episcopal School, St. Mary's Academy and a Beaverton-based homeschooling group, Village Home Educational Resource Center, will be competing.

The earlier rounds will take place at PSU’s Cramer Hall beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 10, with the championship round planned for 3:30 p.m. in the university’s Academic and Student Recreation Center.

The winner will advance to the National High School Ethics Bowl at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

More information can be found at Oregon High School Ethics Bowl's website.

Photo Caption: Students from Hillsboro High School participate in the inaugural Ethics Bowl in 2015.