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Coming Soon: The Third Annual Big Ethical Question Slam

One-of-a-kind event offers mind-binding topics, serious fun, and a $600 grand prize.

What may I NOT do in attempting to make a living?  Is it wrong for a real estate agent to represent both the buyer and the seller? Is 'slum tourism' unethical? Is it ever acceptable to prescribe a placebo treatment to a patient who doesn't require treatment, but is adamant about receiving it? Should the U.S. military be prohibited from deploying automated drones on ethical grounds?

These are just a few of the intriguing questions that will be mulled over by teams from an array of local organizations on Thursday, February 7, at 8 p. m. when hosts its annual Big Ethical Question Slam at Conor O'Neill's Irish Pub. This unique event--billed by A2Ethics president Jeanine DeLay as a "think-off"--was the first of its kind in the nation. As DeLay points out, "It's an opportunity for teams of people from local K-12 schools, businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and colleges and universities to respond to the kind of practical muddles and prickly ethical questions we all face in our everyday lives. This is about working ethics and 'the ethics of downtown.' The discussions are earnest, but judged generously and with a forgiving sense of humor." She adds that, for community organizations, the Slam is a distinctive way to publicize their missions and participate in a fun, high-octane team building exercise. 

The Big Ethical Question Slam was launched in 2011 as an initiative to create a practical ethics scaffolding and infrastructure in the community--what A2Ethics planners refer to tongue-in-cheekily as an "ethics ecosystem," or "ethosystem." The first event, held at the Arbor Brewing Company, attracted a capacity crowd, along with nine teams from groups as diverse as Community High School, Arbor Hospice and a local law firm. At last year's Slam, held at Conor O'Neill's in order to accommodate a larger audience, 100 people cheered on their teams as The Dispute Resolution Center walked away with the grand prize of $600 and the Philosopher's Hat. This year, the audience members will again participate by voting for one team to become the winner of The People's Choice Award.

Judges for Slam 3 include: 

Brad Chick, founder and president of Asq.Us and XACT, LLC

Peter Jacobson, professor of health law and policy, and founder and director of the Center for Law, Ethics and Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health

Mary Larkin, LGBT Resource Center Program coordinator and lecturer at Eastern Michigan University

This year's Slam can accommodate a total of six teams. The deadline for team registration is February 1. Interested groups are encouraged to register as soon as possible by visiting

"Everyone is welcome," DeLay notes. "And people need to be aware that the event is not trying to impose ethics or favor one way to think. We trying to draw out the best thinking of every team and its members to highlight the importance of an ethics lens in our daily life. And we want to do that in a celebratory way in a companionable setting.  As we say in our mission statement: our goal is to give ethics-related ideas and work a permanent voice and an essential place in the communites we serve. 

In addition to the always new questions, this year's Slam 3 is pleased to have as its principal sponsor, Mendenhall Associates (MAI), a locally-based and internationally respected organization that supports healthcare through information, communication and the arts. Information about MAI is available at

Founded in 2008, is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting ethics through social networking, creative education programs and collaborative events. Its projects include the Ethics Economy Initiative, a popular podcast interview series featuring ethics professionals from across Michigan.