Life Raft 2012: You decide who stays and who goes

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS – In the event of a nuclear war, who would you depend on to help a new civilization flourish? A biologist? Emergency Medical Technician? Philosopher? Musician? Anthropologist?
Inver Hills Community College invites the public to have a voice and participate in its third-annual Life Raft Debate on Oct. 9. During this special event — which imagines that a nuclear war has caused need for survivors to set sail and rebuild a society from the ground up — professors will take turns advocating for the survival of their academic discipline to fill the last seat on the life raft. All members of the audience will have the opportunity to vote on which discipline should be saved.
The debate takes place from 12:30-1:45 p.m. Oct. 9 in the Fine Arts Theater on the Inver Hills campus. Hosted by the Inver Hills Department of Sociology, Sociology Club and Speak Up Inver Hills! Club, this event is free and open to the public.
Participants in the 2012 Life Raft Debate include: defending champion James Schneider, biology; Daryl Doering, emergency medical services; Shane Stroup, philosophy; Stanley Rothrock, music; Jeremy Nienow, anthropology; and Shiloh Gideon-Sjostrom, who will take on the role of devil’s advocate and argue that none of the academics should be saved.
Schneider — who took home the Golden Oar in 2011 after successfully debating professors of mathematics, psychology, English and criminal justice — said defending and promoting biology in the debate last year revitalized his enthusiasm for his discipline.
“Enthusiasm can be powerful in the classroom and enhances student learning,” Schneider said. “I had students register for my courses who said they were not planning to take a biology course before the debate.”
The 2011 Life Raft Debate was attended by more than 300 people — a mix of students, professors, college staff and members of the public. The Oct. 9 event will be broadcast by Town Square Television.
Schneider’s strategy this year is to share with the larger audience what he tells his students every day.
“Each separate field in biology yields specific beneficial impacts on human health and well-being, but larger than that, I think evolution, ecology and genetics provide more insight to the human condition, all other life and the networks that bind us together than any other discipline,” he said. “I prefer to appeal to the utilitarian, practical voice rather than the emotional. If that is done successfully, I think biology will be again viewed as the most useful.”
For more detailed information on the event or to arrange for a group to attend, contact Sociology Professor Dave Berger at or (651) 450-3545.

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