Utah State University students and Cache Valley community members of all ages filled Lucky Slice Pizza on Monday night to participate in an “ethics slam.”
Topics of discussion ranged from recycling and banning single-use plastics to geo-engineering and personal responsibility, but all centered on the central theme of “responding to climate change.”
Attendees were “talking about making changes to live simpler lifestyles so that our carbon footprint isn’t as large … Talking about reducing emissions, changing our behaviors and expecting our institutions to do the same,” said event organizer Rachel Robison-Greene, a postdoctoral fellow of philosophy at Utah State University.
The restaurant was so flooded with participants that many had to stand, and the line to order food was out the door. It was often hard for those in the back to hear the conversation above the crowd, even with the use of a microphone.
The ethics slam was sponsored by the Weber State University Richard Richards Institute for Ethics, the USU Philosophy Club, and the Society for Women in Philosophy. It was organized by Robison-Greene and her husband, Richard Greene, a professor of philosophy and director of the Richard Richards Institute for Ethics.
This is the seventh ethics slam put together by Greene and Robison-Greene, whose collective goal is to encourage civil discourse and generate rich conversations within a respectful community.
This goal appeared to be met on Monday evening, as ethics slam participants engaged in polite conversation and debate for almost two hours. Opinions were challenged and controversial points were made, but Greene and Robison-Greene kept the conversation on track.
“It gives people a chance to express what they think about these topics, and it lets people have different ideas on how they can help make a change with climate change,” said Cassandra White, a USU student studying environmental science.
According to Greene, the couple’s backgrounds in philosophy have played a significant role in their desire to put on events like the ethics slam.
“We’re both very interested in public philosophy … so getting philosophy to people that aren’t just academics and letting everyone find their inner philosopher, and giving them avenues to express their views,” Greene said.
According to Robison-Greene, choosing “responding to climate change” as the focal point for this ethics slam was an easy decision to make.
“It’s a conversation we must be having in our communities if we’re gonna have any change,” Robison-Greene said. “I think changes start happening locally, and then start happening on a grander and grander scale.”
The next ethics slam will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Pleasant Valley Branch of the Weber County Library. The topic of discussion will be: “Is censorship ever appropriate?”