Gabriela Cinkova, Ross Garlick, Kathleen “KC” Schmitz and Lauren Teske placed first in the 10-minute format of the competition and were the runners-up in both the 90-second and 60-minute format in the competition, held in New Orleans.
The competition challenges students to examine a real-world ethical dilemma and come up with legal and ethical solutions. Participants came from all over the globe, representing Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; Boston College; DeGroote School of Business; McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario; Global Business School of Barcelona; and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, among others.
The Fordham students’ presentation was on self-driving cars and their potential impact on safety.
“The presentation actually was not the ethics of self-driving cars themselves. The students made the assumption that the entrance of self-driving cars into the marketplace is inevitable,” said Assistant Dean Greer Jason-DiBartolo, who accompanied the students to New Orleans. “What they were looking to do was to serve as a fictional consulting group to Google, because the cars are going to have to be embedded with a decision-making framework of what to do in the event of an unavoidable accident.”
In essence: If an accident were about to happen, should the car be programmed to protect its occupants, or the pedestrians and other drivers around it?
“Our case dealt with hypotheticals and the future,” Schmitz said. “We weren’t trying to argue about whether or not self-driving cars should exist; rather, how we should program them assuming they will exist.”
Their discussion, “Hardwiring Ethics: The Self-Driving Care Dilemma,” won first place in Fordham’s inaugural Undergraduate Business Ethics Case Competition, sponsored by the Center for Ethics Education, and earned them a place in New Orleans.
“The judges afterward actually came to us and remarked at how pleased they were at how successful our students were in their performance because this is our first year in the competition,” Jason-DiBartolo said. “They said that sometimes it takes several years for students to perform as well as they do.”
Schmitz said that was a direct result of the work with Jason-DiBartolo and Assistant Professor Miguel Alzola.
“Dean Jason and Professor Alzola were incredible at organizing practices and feedback sessions with various staff members, from faculty members and deans, to professors with certain levels of expertise,” Schmitz said.
“We’re really grateful for everyone who was involved in helping us prepare.”