Irvine High School Students present to a Greater Irvine Chamber at Third Annual Ethics Forum


Photo by Mannat Bawa

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  • Photo by Mannat Bawa

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Irvine High School students virtually presented ethical dilemmas to the Greater Irvine Chamber’s Business and Workforce Development Committee during the third Annual Ethics Forum on Tuesday, April 20.

Students have been researching topics since December, working together in teams to analyze dilemmas through various decision making models. A wide array of topics were covered as students tackled issues from racial bias in healthcare to the business practices of dollar stores.

“A lot of the topics we choose from are things happening today so their decisions and ethical reasonings really affect us and our future,” senior Zoha Ahmed said. “That’s why I love Ethics Forum. Each group brings up a very interesting topic that holds a lot of weight because it’s applicable to today.”

Regardless of the virtual environment, students were still able to engage in mock presentations and discussions to develop their communication skills and professionalism.

“This year, we had to work together through zoom which was pretty difficult… [as] there are connection issues that make it [hard] to communicate with each other,” junior Una Santos said. “However, despite these issues, it is overall a rewarding experience… I’ve learned about the importance of managing your time well, the need to be well-researched, and to focus on the topics you care about.”

Students presented to Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) board members, administrators, the CEO of the Irvine Chamber, along with other business people and educators.

“It was quite intimidating but motivational at the same time,” sophomore Sriya Vollala said. “Knowing that I would have to speak in front of adults that knew what they were talking about motivated me to have a better presentation and work harder… It felt nice knowing that people paid attention and wanted to learn more about the topic we chose.”

Started by Courtney Smith, social studies co-department chair, and Dr. Brian Dozer, co-chair of the chamber, Ethics Forum was created to provide students a program centered around critical thinking and decision making skills.

“We hear employers all the time say to us: I can teach them the technical skills on how to do my job, but I don’t have the time to teach them how to think critically, how to make decisions, how to present [or] how to speak,” Dr. Dozer said. “[The program] is meant to address a lot of the skills that employers want, that aren’t necessarily taught in a formal setting in education.”

At the end of each presentation, chamber members asked students questions to learn more about their topic choice and how the students considered both sides of the debate.

“Every year, in every single presentation, I learn something,” Dr. Dozer said. “I like to say that I know a little bit about an awful lot of things. And yet, every year the topics come in and there is something that I learn…I have to stop myself and go, that’s an interesting point I have never considered.”

The chamber hopes to continue the Ethics Program next year and has initiated discussions about expanding it to other schools throughout IUSD.