Grant helps student create ethics game

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Jathan Sadowski

Jathan Sadowski, a winter graduate of RIT’s philosophy program, along with RIT Associate Professor Evan Selinger and researchers from Arizona State University, is capitalizing on the impact that experiential games have on learning communities.

Through a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, he has helped create a series of interactive games focusing on the core ethical issues in sustainability today such as externalities, tragedy of the commons, weak versus strong sustainability and intergenerational justice. Sadowski, a New Orleans native, says the games simulate ethical situations and implore students to work together to make rational decisions.

“We’re asking students to confront two main questions,” Sadowski says. “‘What are my obligations to others and how much am I willing to risk my own well being?’ It’s possible for the students to create existential catastrophes, without affecting anything in reality. Our games allow students to have these experiences, learn from them and reflect upon them when they become professionals in the field.”

According to Sadowski, problems in sustainability tend to occur on large scales and it has become increasingly important for engineers to be sensitive to the norms of other cultures and be aware of how their actions affect people around the globe.

Sadowski traveled to Qatar to present his research and will be working with researchers this spring on further development of the games.