Teach Me How to Converse about the Environment


Nicholas Thomason, Sophomore, Computer Engineering, College of STEM
Zamiya Ben Isreal, Sophomore, Biology, College of STEM

Faculty Mentor(s):

Dr. Laurie Porter, Johnson C. Smith University


Social Sciences


Living in a world sharply divided across political preferences it is often hard to come to a resolution on a number of issues. We tend to passively make our choices based on our respective political parties’ stance on complex issues. This becomes complicated when dealing with issues like the environment and sustainability which effect us all despite our differences. The over politicizing of issues makes us neglect fact, reason and most importantly ethics when coming to a decision. This project looks at the Johnson C. Smith Debate Team’s method and the positive knowledge-based expertise gained in a case-based problem-solving process. The team prioritizes gathering facts from multiple sources, dialogic group sessions and putting every day, ethical decisions above political correctness. Tasked with debating on issues that effect the environment like fracking and animal cloning, we purposefully take out the politics in every case, do extensive research and applying ethics on how our stance effects the individual, our state, our nation and our worlds. This type of sense-making method has proven to be successful not only in our debates but also in how each and every one of us converse on topics that may be outside of our expertise, or topics that fuel fiery discussions. The approach guides our process without resorting to a winner/loser mindset. Debate defense becomes a form of conversation with both our opposition and judges to advance new solutions.


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