Picture of UC Philosophy grad students and UC staff at Westwood Public Library for teaching ethics through roleplaying games. g

Cincinnati Ethics Center Partners with Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library to Teach Ethics through Roleplaying Games

Featured image L to R: Zachary Srivastava, UC Philosophy Dept. grad student; Alexa Justice, GEI Coordinator with UC’s EI Title IX Office ; and Jonathan McKinney, UC Philosophy Dept. researcher

Cincinnati Ethics Center Dungeons and Dragrons logo.

The Cincinnati Ethics Center (CEC), will partner with the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library to create educational adventures that are designed to introduce children to philosophical and moral reasoning concepts in the context of a game. This will involve reimagining the traditional tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) to emphasize critical thinking, community, and creativity.

The pilot program will take place this summer at the Westwood Public Library, located at 3345 Epworth Avenue, on Thursdays from 1 – 3 pm beginning June 16th. Graduate students from UC’s Department of Philosophy and staff from UC’s EI Title IX Office will act as “Game Masters” and guide the children through fun-filled adventures and exploration. For example, the children will be tasked with resolving moral dilemmas and philosophical puzzles through teamwork and group storytelling.

Over the course of several sessions, each child will develop an individual character to explore and collectively shape a unique world. In this process, the children will create both individual and group projects in response to weekly prompts with philosophical and ethical themes. CEC’s Executive Director, Dr. Andrew Cullison feels D&D is a remarkable way to give kids practice discussing moral dilemmas because they can be woven into the fabric of the adventure you have created for them. The stakes are low because they are not debating hot button political issues or ethical issues that hit close to home. It is a wonderful way to practice talking about ethical issues in a way that is less stressful and a lot of fun.

D&D has had a resurgence in popularity, especially in a younger audience, thanks to its incorporation into the popular Netflix series Stranger Things.  With a mission to promote community engagement, the CEC saw this event as an excellent way of establishing an ongoing relationship with the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library.  Lisa Soper, Youth Services & Programming Coordinator added “We are excited to partner with the Cincinnati Ethics Center on this program series. Dungeons & Dragons is an amazing way to strengthen the social and emotional skills of young people in a way that is both fun and creative. “

Our Game Masters will be developing campaigns of one-shots; perfect for beginners and children who may have other family commitments this summer.  There is no cost to participate and children attending at least three sessions will receive their own D&D die.

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