UBCO’s annual Life Raft Debate heads into outer space

Debate mankind's survival

The third-annual UBC Okanagan Life Raft Debate has moved online and switched up the theme. This year the audience will help decide who will win the last seat to safety on a space shuttle heading to Mars.

“For this year’s Society of Scholars Life Raft Debate, we imagine space agencies have discovered an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. In order to preserve humanity, a settlement has been developed on Mars,” explains Karah Hopgood, a fourth-year biochemistry student and member of the planning committee. “Just one final seat remains on the life raft, or in this scenario a shuttle, and of the five professors only one will get on the shuttle.”

UBCO professors will debate why their area of expertise is essential for humankind’s survival. The participants include the defending 2020 champion Dr. Ray Taheri, along with Dr. Robin Young, Dr. Sally Stewart, Dr. Sandy Hilton and UBCO’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr. Lesley Cormack.

Dr. Bryce Traister, dean of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, will play the important role of ‘devil’s advocate’ — he will argue that the survivors should choose no one, as their new society will be better off without a professor aboard. 2019 champion Dr. Stephen McNeil will host this year's debate.

Tonight's debate will use Zoom technology, and the audience will be able to vote for which professor wins the last seat on the final shuttle to leave planet earth.

“The Life Raft Debate fosters a sense of connection within our UBC Okanagan community by bringing together professors from many different faculties, and allowing them to divulge the complexity of their fields in an interactive experience,” says Hopgood. “

With audience participation and a devil’s advocate, this is a fun way to make these diverse disciplines accessible to everyone.”

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