Skip to main content

UA Little Rock Receives Two Grants to Hold New Ethics and Philosophy Summer Academy

The Charles W. Donaldson Student Services Center at UA Little Rock
The Charles W. Donaldson Student Services Center at UA Little Rock

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has received two grants totaling around $20,000 to fund the inaugural UA Little Rock Ethics and Philosophy Summer Academy for Arkansas high school students.

UA Little Rock received a nearly $15,000 grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as a $5,000 grant from the American Philosophical Association. The project is also supported by the UA Little Rock College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education.

The grants will allow UA Little Rock to host about 25 high school students from across the state for a free week-long summer camp geared toward philosophy and ethics education. The camp will be free to attend, and the grants will cover the students’ on-campus housing and meals.

Dr. Jana McAuliffe, associate professor of philosophy and principal investigator on the grants, and Dr. Michael Norton, co-director of the School of Human Inquiry, have been working with Scott Hairston and Jake Morris, teachers and Ethics Bowl coaches at Little Rock Central High School, to bring the summer academy to life.

“We are so grateful for the support we have received from these organizations to host our first Ethics and Philosophy Summer Academy,” McAuliffe said. “This project comes out of 12 years of UA Little Rock’s philosophy program organizing the Arkansas High School Ethics Bowl. This is a competition where students work together as teams to develop ethical arguments about important issues in the world. We are collaborating with high school teachers to give students the opportunity to further study philosophy and ethics at no cost to themselves or their families.”

The Ethics and Philosophy Summer Academy will be held from June 24-28 at UA Little Rock. The inaugural theme will be “Ethics and Technology.” Participants will explore a variety of topics like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, social media, fake news, nuclear weapons, predictive policing, surveillance capitalism, driverless cars, organ transplants, and genetic technologies.

Under the guidance of experienced college faculty and high school teachers, students will consider a variety of philosophical concepts, encounter diverse points of view, develop skills in argument analysis and construction, and practice civil discourse and disagreement on the ethical questions technology raises.

“We will engage in lively seminars in the morning, small-group activities in the afternoon, and films and games in the evening, all of which will culminate in a small-scale Ethics Bowl at the end of the week,” McAuliffe said. “These students will leave the academy with the tools to start an Ethics Bowl Team or Philosophy Club at their own schools or in their communities.”