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Georgetown Team Takes Second at National Bioethics Competition

Over the March 24th weekend, five Georgetown undergraduates traveled to Denver, Colorado to compete in a debate-style bioethics bowl at the National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference (NUBC). Georgetown went up against five other teams in six rounds of grueling competition. On Friday, they presented arguments on hot button issues in bioethics ranging from the sustainability of the Winter Olympics to the moral implications of widespread international adoption.

Over the next two days, Georgetown’s crisp presentations and insightful arguments led them to four wins against teams from across the country, including the University of Tampa, University of Northern Colorado, University at Albany, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They debated the moral permissibility of performing infant euthanasia, using “do not resuscitate” directives as “do not rescue” orders, creating deadly “superbug” strains of viruses to develop vaccines, and administering growth hormone attenuation drugs to children with severe mental disabilities.

Team members Elizabeth Bacaks, Will Hambley, Grace McElhenny, Corrine Schmidt, and Michael Vu earned a ticket to the final round, where they competed against Depauw University in front of an audience composed of all of the NUBC participants. Georgetown presented their position on longitudinal collective action problems and climate change in the finals, arguing that on a deontological account of duties, each person has a prima facie duty to combat climate change for the sake of both present and future generations. The team suggested that government action incentivizing the use of public transportation or fuel-efficient vehicles, walking, and bike-riding would help individuals take action even in the face of problems of inconsequentialism.

After the final round, the team headed off to see the keynote speaker, Temple Grandin, speak on “Different Minds.” Dr. Grandin, known for her innovations and activism in the treatment of animal livestock, is also a notable author of several books including The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’sAnimals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals, and Thinking in Pictures. After Dr. Grandin’s presentation, NUBC announced the final results of the bioethics bowl competition and awarded second place to Georgetown.