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Fourth Annual Ethics Symposium Prompts Thoughtful Conversations About Ethics and Truth

ethics symposium

Students and faculty engaged in ethical discussions following seven student presentation at the fourth-annual Ethics Symposium. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Students share brief presentations on ethical issues ranging from artificial intelligence to mass incarceration

by David Blosser '19

The Stern Center Great Room was filled with insightful conversations during the recent fourth annual Ethics Symposium. This year’s theme was "Ethics and Truth," and the topics ranged from the relationship between ethics and ignorance to the importance of engaging with differing perspectives.  

“We think of the Ethics Symposium as an invitation to challenge comfortable assumptions in our community,” says Assistant Professor of Philosophy Amy McKiernan, who hosted the event, alongside Lecturer in International Business and Management Steve Riccio. “This event aims to jump-start conversation and leave people with the desire to know more [about contemporary moral problems].” 

The symposium encourages students to step forward and say why they care about what they care about and to re-examine, and possibly reconsider, their own beliefs. For this year’s event, seven students, representing nine different academic disciplines, presented on a diverse array of topics, which included mass incarceration and restorative justice, artificial intelligence, gentrification, the criminalization of black boys in the U.S. and more.

ethics symposium

This year’s student presenters included Steven Peterson ’19, Quadrese Glass ’19, Olivia Termini ’19, Michelle Stringfellow ’22, Amanda Custer ’19 (pictured above), Mollie Montague ’19 and Taeya Viruet ’20. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

One of the student presenters, Olivia Termini ’19 (classical studies and environmental studies), drew from the research in both of her majors to explore the relationship between Western conceptions of self- and climate-change responsibility. “This event provided me with a forum to consolidate thoughts that I have been having the entire semester,” Termini said. “Events like these offer people an opportunity to converse, learn and question their own beliefs.”  

Following the student presentations, attendees were invited to talk in small groups about how each presentation related to the evening’s theme.  

“The small group discussions allowed people to share their opinions and personal stories,” said Binam Poudyal ’22 (undeclared), who hails from Nepal. “One of [the members of our table] was able to tell how gentrification affected her own life and people living in her local community. It was a very open and interesting conversation that required critical thinking on all of our parts.”   

The Ethics Symposium is held annually in honor of Professor Michael Poulton, who taught marketing and comparative business ethics courses in the Department of International Business & Management before his death in 2015.

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Published November 14, 2018