Cincinnati Ethics Center on WVXU Cincinnati Edition

As a result of the enthusiasm surrounding the Ethics Bowl 101 event, the Cincinnati Ethics Center Executive Director Andrew (Andy) Cullison; and three people who took part in the Ethics Bowl 101: Mount Healthy High School world history teacher Tyler Barrett; Mount Healthy High School counselor Nikeisha Brooks; and Mount Healthy High School junior El-Ayanna Crawford were invited by Lucy May to be studio guest on WVXU’s Cincinnati Edition.

At the start of the 30-minute segment Andy was asked what makes the Ethics Center different from other academic centers at UC. He responded “we are not housed in academic affairs as they don’t want it to be an academic center. A lot of the work we will be doing will be ethics education and leadership development. We describe it as work from the wonder years to the golden years”. The Ethics Center plans to work with K-12 institutions to give kids tools to handle difficult conversations, learning how to talk across differences, and being comfortable with disagreement. We will also share this same work in the offices of local companies and non-profit organizations.

Part of the Center’s K-12 work will be focused attention on increasing participation in the National High School Ethics Bowl competition by area high schools. Andy was asked to briefly describe what is Ethics Bowl and he shared that it is a debate styled competition that looks like debate, but it is very different from debate. In debate you are trying to win arguments, there is showmanship, there are points for how many facts you lay out. Ethics Bowl, the founder Bob Ladenson, really compared it to scoring a conversation and teaching people how to engage in dialog. You don’t even have to disagree with the other team. The big difference is a rubric which has a category for “do you consider thoughtfully viewpoints from people that may disagree with your team’s position. The score a team receives on that category is predictive of who wins the round. It forces students to view the complete breath of the moral landscape rather than just try to throw out statements to win their point of view.

When asked why he took students to the Ethics Bowl 101 event Tyler admitted to not having a lot of background on Ethics Bowl prior to receiving the invitation, but he started doing research and digging through what this program was. He shared “it’s the civil discourse element that I think is so important for our young people and really society at large right now it is lacking that ability to have difficult conversations and examine issues from all sides.” After attending the seminar he was sold on its concept and he took the information back to his school leadership the next morning. He further shared “I believe every high school in should have this.

The full interview can be listened to on WVXU.

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