UBCO’s annual Life Raft Debate heads into outer space

UBC Okanagan third-annual Life Raft Debate graphic

UBC Okanagan third-annual Life Raft Debate graphic

Professors talk up their expertise to earn a seat on the shuttle

What: Life Raft Debate
Who: UBC professors debate their expertise to earn the last seat on a shuttle to Mars
When: Thursday, January 21, beginning at 7 p.m.
Venue: Online, virtual event

UBC Okanagan’s third-annual Life Raft Debate is switching up the theme and heading to Mars for the 2021 version.

In an online event where the audience helps decide who will win the last seat to safety in the shuttle, UBC professors will debate why their area of expertise is essential for humankind’s survival.

“For this year’s Society of Scholars Life Raft Debate, we imagine space agencies have discovered an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. In order to preserve humanity, a settlement has been developed on Mars,” explains Karah Hopgood, a fourth-year biochemistry student and member of the planning committee. “Just one final seat remains on the life raft, or in this scenario a shuttle, and of the five professors only one will get on the shuttle.”

Competing for that last seat will be defending 2020 champion Dr. Ray Taheri, along with Dr. Robin Young, Dr. Sally Stewart, Dr. Sandy Hilton and UBCO’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr. Lesley Cormack. To round out the debate Dr. Bryce Traister, dean of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, plays the role of ‘devil’s advocate’—he will argue that the survivors should choose no one, as their new society will be better off without a professor aboard. And 2019 champion Dr. Stephen McNeil is this year’s debate host.

Using Zoom technology, the audience will be able to vote for which professor wins the last seat on the final shuttle to leave planet earth.

“The Life Raft Debate fosters a sense of connection within our UBC Okanagan community by bringing together professors from many different faculties, and allowing them to divulge the complexity of their fields in an interactive experience,” says Hopgood. “With audience participation and a devil’s advocate, this is a fun way to make these diverse disciplines accessible to everyone.”

The life raft debate takes place Thursday, January 21 at 7 p.m. For more information and to register, visit: students.ok.ubc.ca/life-raft

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca