APPE Spotlight on Ethics Bowl Chair Richard Greene

APPE is excited to highlight the work of the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB) Board Chair Dr. Richard Greene!

Richard Greene earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1998 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on epistemology and the intersection of popular culture and philosophy, and he is currently working on his fifteenth book on philosophy and pop culture. Some of his previous titles include Twin Peaks and Philosophy (forthcoming), American Horror Story and Philosophy (forthcoming), Mr. Robot and Philosophy, The Princess Bride and Philosophy, and Quentin Tarantino and Philosophy. He has also lectured on philosophy and pop culture at the Smithsonian Institution. He is entering his 5th year as the Chair of the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Board, is on the Steering Committee of the National High School Ethics Bowl, and is the Executive Director of the Society for Skeptical Studies. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the ukulele.

Dr. Greene first became involved with Ethics Bowl in 1999 at San Jose State University when he was presented with an opportunity to coach the college team. Although he had not previously heard of Ethics Bowl, he recalls that “it sounded interesting and I like those activities with students where you get to work closely and help them develop philosophically outside of the classroom, so I sort of blindly volunteered.”

As an IEB coach, Dr. Greene enjoyed working with students to help them develop and articulate their ethical positions. “It’s teaching outside of the classroom,” he says,  “and you really roll up sleeves and get into nitty gritty of stuff.” Dr. Greene notes that the Ethics Bowl competition format is unique in the profound way in which it allows students work with their teammates and faculty members to engage with complex moral issues.  “The emphasis on rational civil discourse is the thing that distinguishes IEB from other forms of debates,” he comments. “Kids aren’t assigned a side. They argue for what they believe in…and they do this in a way that develops public speaking skills, team building skills, moral reasoning skills, and critical thinking skills, all at the same time.”

In addition to coaching IEB teams, he also enjoys working on the organizational side of Ethics Bowl. In particular, he values the relationships that his administrative role has helped him to cultivate with other IEB leaders, coaches and judges. Speaking of the Ethics Bowl community, Dr. Greene expresses the pleasure he finds in working with “that wonderful group of people who I call my ‘army of volunteers’. They all work very hard and they do a lot for Ethics Bowl, and none of them are paid to do it. They’re just there as a labor of love.”

Looking toward the future of Ethics Bowl, Dr. Greene is especially excited about the way the program continues to grow. The number of individuals involved with both the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl and the National High School Ethics Bowl increases every year.  Local governments have begun to ask about how they can run Ethics Bowls as part of their human resource officers’ ethics training activities. International interest in Ethics Bowls is increasing as well, and the organization ran its first Ethics Bowl in Kuwait last year. The annual Ethics Bowl workshop is increasingly popular, and an Ethics Bowl podcast is in the works. As Dr. Greene notes, “it seems like the culture of Ethics Bowl is growing, from the number of competitions, to the kind of people involved in those competitions, doing all these tangential Ethics Bowl-related things, and so it’s an exciting time for me to be involved with it.”